Hyman Eli Goldberg and Emanuel Goldberg – two pioneers of optical character and code recognition – or why one of them was not properly credited

I was researching for an article about image and object recognition, when I stumbled upon an inconsistency. In the Wikipedia article about optical character recognition (OCR) I read:

“In 1914, Emanuel Goldberg developed a machine that read characters and converted them into standard telegraph code.”

A few a few lines further it was stated that the same Emanuel Goldberg developed a machine (called “Statistical Machine”) for searching microfilm archives using an optical code recognition system. Furthermore it was stated that the Statistical Machine got patented in 1931.
Now I wanted to know more about these machines and immediately found lots of information about the Statistical Machine on the web. For instance about it’s intended purpose that was to retrieve accounting and sales statistics, therefore the name (source).
But for the first machine I found absolutely nothing, only dozens of articles with copies of the sentence from Wikipedia. This was strange, why were there no sketches and no technical details available, when it was such a noteworthy invention?

I studied the footnotes. In the Wikipedia article the indicated source for the information about the machine of 1914 was:

Dhavale, Sunita Vikrant (2017). Advanced Image-Based Spam Detection and Filtering Techniques. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. p. 91.

I quickly found the passage in the book by Dr. Dhavale and read about the same:

“In 1914, Emanuel Goldberg developed a machine to convert printed characters into standard telegraph code.”

She presented another source for this: Schantz, Herbert F. (1982). The history of OCR, optical character recognition

„Okay, we are getting closer“, I thought. Thanks to ebook lending I was able to look that up promptly. The answer may not surprise you. Herbert F. Schantz states crystal clear that it was Goldberg who invented a machine that reads and converts typed messages to standard telegraph code (Morse code):

Schantz 1982, snippet of page 2

One can see that the year for the invention now has changed from 1914 to 1912. – A few lines above Schantz mentions a time window (between 1912 and 1914) to include the invention of the optophone by Edmund Fournier d’Albe:

Schantz 1982, snippet of page 2

I assume this is how the year 1914 got into the book of Dhavale. Please also note that the forename is misspelled. His correct name is Emanuel Goldberg.

But what really astonished me, was the notion that the work was done in Chicago. Emanuel Goldberg was Professor at Leipzig (Germany) during that time, why should he work in Chicago?

At this point I already sensed that Schantz’s research for this chapter was deeply flawed. – I decided to consult the only comprehensive biography of Emanuel Goldberg that is available. It was written by Berkeley professor Michael Buckland and published in 2006. The title of the book: Emanuel Goldberg and his Knowledge Machine.

Of course “knowledge machine” refers to Goldberg’s Statistical Machine. (For those who are interested in the operating principles of that machine: the technical details can be found on this page). Anyway. I leafed through the book. It was was arranged more or less chronologically and I found nothing about Goldberg spending time in Chicago or working on a machine that converts characters to Morse code.

I was already in the 1930s and half through the book as Buckland suddenly quotes from this passage of the book of Herbert F. Schantz:

Schantz 1982, snippet of page 3

The passage starts with the notion that Goldberg was „already known for the invention of OCR-type telegraphic devices.“ But other than Dr. Dhavale Prof. Buckland realized that Schantz had messed it up. Buckland knew that two inventive Goldbergs existed, both working on optical recognition systems. The famous one is of course Emanuel Goldberg. The almost forgotten one is Hyman Eli Goldberg (also known as Hyman Golber, due to a later change of name).

Here is, what Buckland states with regard to Schantz’s confusion:

“For once in his life, Goldberg received more than his fair share of credit, because two inventive Goldbergs working on pattern recognition devices have not been adequately distinguished. The other Goldberg was Hymen [sic] Eli Goldberg of Chicago, who was associated with the Goldberg Calculating Machine Company and changed his name to Hymen Eli Golber. Golber obtained numerous U.S. and German patents, most of them in the years 1907 to 1914 and 1930, for innovations in calculating and printing machinery. One of his techniques was to print characters in electrically conducting ink on a nonconducting surface. A sensor would then test whether surface points were conductive or not, thereby detecting the location and shape of printed characters.”

Buckland 2006, p. 162

Note that Buckland got the forename wrong. Hyman is correct.

Long story short: It was Hyman Eli Goldberg who patented a machine that converts characters into telegraph code.

And this is the corresponding patent: it was filed as „Controller“ in 1911 and granted in 1915: patents.google.com/patent/US1165663A (a precursor version is patented under US1117184.)

patent US1165663, snippet of page 1

By the way: the machine can NOT process standard print or typewrite letters. The conversion works due to a specifically shaped set of letters and digits that is presented on page 3 of the patent file:

patent US1165663, snippet of page 3

For further reading: there is at least one publication (from Dennis Yi Tenen, Columbia University) that acknowledges, explains and credits the invention of Hyman Eli Goldberg properly: amodern.net/article/laminate-text

Conclusion: It is a bit frustrating that Michael Buckland’s finding did not make it into the Wikipedia (as of 11/11/2022). The false claim is now spread over the Internet and will never vanish completely.
So what can be learned from this? – Well, obviously this: do not trust every information that is in the Wikipedia, always look for the original source, if something looks inconsistent, dig deep.

Some thoughts on „The American Side“ [2016]

[spoiler alert]

Some reviewers complain that it’s hard to follow the plot – but isn’t this typical for film noir?
Besides, if you watch the movie again [or only the scenes that made no sense to you], you will notice that there is no puzzle. The whole thing about barrel-crossing the Niagara over the American side is just a subplot that is not important for the main plot. The main plot goes like that: we have several parties that want to obtain both parts of Tesla’s note. Some might want to destroy them, some are seeking for the knowledge of how they fit together and what they mean. In the end we see that Charlie has both parts in his lighter: one on the front, the other on the back. Of course Nikki Meeker has put it in there. Remember? She „stole“ the lighter from him before. Now the light of the pinball machine and ta-da: Tesla’s potentially „world-changing“ note in it’s entirety. Then the phone call for Charlie. But that’s part of The American Side II … which, of course, will never be realised.

Some thoughts on „Last Days in the Desert“ [2015]

[spoiler alert]

I liked this movie. I liked the atmosphere, the soundtrack, the calm voice of Ewan. I also liked the idea of depicting the devil as double of Yeshua. I think the conversation that implies that God likes new outcomes that derive from little changes is essential. The „entanglement“ of the three family members illustrates this. Yeshua tries to solve the social riddle with words and compassion, not with godlike powers. But the outcome is unforeseeable, even for him. The movie should have ended after the scenario in the desert. I really wondered why Rodrigo García added the crucifixion scene with the hummingbird. Didn’t he know that hummingbirds live only in America? A dragonfly would have had the same effect. But OK, it’s the devil, he can do that [winking smiley].

Mining of Cryptocurrencies – Development and Status Quo

Mining is the complex computing process that creates cryptocoins like Bitcoin. [Bitcoin is the first and most important cryptocurrency, but there are many alternative currencies like Ether, Dash or Litecoin.] Mining enables the integrity of the so-called blockchain by cryptologically verifying each transaction and establishing a public transaction directory.
At the beginning of the Bitcoin era it was profitable to mine bitcoins with a PC. Since the energy required to produce a single coin is increasing steadily [see difficulty] it is no longer reasonable to use a PC and / or graphics cards cause the electricity costs are much higher. Even if you team up with other miners and form a so-called mining pool, it is difficult to be profitable. This only works if you have the latest devices designed specifically for mining [so-called ASICs] and if the costs for electricity and cooling are also low. In addition, the mining distributions are halved within foreseeable cycles [see halving] since there can only be a finite number of coins. [In case of Bitcoin 21 million units].
For these reasons the so-called cloud mining has developed over the past two years. In order to be able to make profits companies were founded that moved the mining to places where the electricity fees are low and the conditions for cooling are ideal [e.g. Iceland]. There were then ASIC mining devices installed, on a large scale of course, so that one can speak of a mining farm.
Cloud mining is being financed by the customers who „rent“ computing power [hashpower]. This enables more flexibility for investors since no complete device has to be purchased. Even small amounts of hashpower can be purchased. This also makes diversification pretty easy cause parallel mining of different cryptocurrencies is possible.
The leading suppliers use the latest technologies and they can also buy the required devices cheaper. It makes a difference whether one buys thousand ASIC devices or just one. Therefore cloud mining revenues are usually higher than those from home mining attempts. They could be still higher, but a part of the money is retained by the provider of course. However, given a positive market development it is a win-win situation. In addition, as a cloud miner you do not have to worry about electricity, maintenance or hardware updates. This is all done by the provider.

Btw: If a mining provider holds more than 50% of the total hash power of a given currency, the situation could become risky. Then a manipulation of the blockchain would no longer be impossible. This scenario is actually an important topic for the developers.

Two more sentences on Ethereum: The Ethereum platform is, in a sense, the first „world computer“. Realized as a decentralized network, the platform can be used by everyone to run applications without the possibility of downtime, censorship or fraud.
Ether, the systemic currency of Ethereum, is next to Bitcoin the fastest growing cryptocurrency. Ethereum is still at the beginning. How important the platform will become is not foreseeable yet. Optimists already speak of Web 3.0.
So if you are willing to make an interesting investment, then you should speculate in Ether. The chances of investing in a lucrative future project are not bad. However, total loss can not be ruled out. This applies for known reasons [hackers, potential security gaps, regulation or prohibition by authorities, internet failure] to all cryptocurrencies.

Ich seh Ich seh – die Auflösung / Goodnight Mommy – the denouement

Blog-Artikel in Deutsch [English version below]

[enthält Spoiler]

Der Film „Ich seh Ich seh“ [im Engl. Goodnight Mommy] ist verstörend und rätselhaft, die Handlung verworren und schwer auflösbar. Hat Elias seinen Zwillingsbruder Lukas die ganze Zeit über bloß imaginiert? Ist dieser schon vor einiger Zeit bei einem Unfall ums Leben gekommen? Die letzten Worte der Mutter und die Anfangsszene, in der Lukas beim gemeinsamen Schwimmen mit seinem Bruder verdächtig lange untertaucht, legen das nahe. Aber wie kommt es, dass Elias seine Mutter in der Person, die vorgibt seine Mutter zu sein, nicht mehr wiedererkennt? Lässt er sich von dem Verband täuschen, der lange Zeit ihr Gesicht verdeckt? Ist es ihr immer strenger werdendes und nicht gerade liebevolles Verhalten? Was hat es mit dem Foto auf sich, auf dem zwei identisch aussehende Frauen nebeneinander zu sehen sind, die gleichen Klamotten tragend? Hatte die Mutter eine Zwillingsschwester? Wurde das Muttermal, das sie eindeutig identifiziert hätte, wirklich „gleich mit entfernt“, während sie im Krankenhaus war? Wie kam es eigentlich zur ihrer Gesichtsverletzung? Warum weiß sie nicht, welches Schlaflied Elias am liebsten hört? Andererseits, warum sollte eine geheime Zwillingsschwester die Rolle der Mutter einnehmen und die Jungen fortwährend belügen? Das ergäbe wenig Sinn.
Die Lösung besteht wohl tatsächlich darin, dass die Mutter die echte Mutter ist und Elias ein Trauma durchlebt, in dessen Verlauf ihm der imaginierte Bruder Zweifel an ihrer Identität einflüstert.
Doch ein Detail, das mir erst beim zweiten Sehen ins Auge gefallen ist, möchte ich noch erwähnen …

Bei der Recherche bin ich wiederholt auf die Bemerkung gestoßen, dass das Haus, das in einer der letzten Szenen von der Feuerwehr gelöscht wird, nicht das aus der Haupthandlung sei. Das ist falsch. Es ist lediglich ein anderer Blickwinkel. Wir sehen immer das gleiche Haus. Die unten beigefügten Bilder belegen dies. Und hier habe ich etwas bemerkt. Schauen Sie sich die Lösch-Szene noch einmal genau an. Achten Sie nicht auf das Feuer. Schauen Sie nach links. Sehen Sie die Frau, gekleidet in einem hellen Kleid, die sich langsam ins Bild bewegt? Sie hält inne, starrt einen Moment Richtung Feuer und verschwindet wieder in der Dunkelheit …

In der letzten Szene sieht man, wie sich die Brüder mit der Frau vereinigen. Sie läuft ihnen aus der Dunkelheit kommend im hellen Kleid entgegen. Es ist die geliebte Mutter. Gemeinsam singen sie „Sag mir wieviel Sternlein stehen“, das Schlaflied, das Lukas so mag. Ich seh, ich seh. Zumindest das imaginierte Ende fällt gut aus.

Den Film als Blu-ray kaufen (Affiliate-Link)

English Version

[spoiler alert]

The film Goodnight Mommy [German title „Ich seh Ich seh“] is disturbing and mysterious, the plot confusing and difficult to resolve. Has Elias only imagined his twin brother Luke throughout the movie? Did he die in an accident some time ago? The last words of the mother and the initial scene, in which Luke is swimming with his brother and suspiciously long submerges, support this assumption. But how does it happen that Elias no longer recognizes his mother in the person who claims to be his mother? Is he fooled by the bandage that conceals her face for a long time? Is it her almost draconic and unloving behavior? What about the photo that shows two identical-looking women side by side wearing the same clothes? Does the mother have a twin sister? Was the birthmark, that would have identified her, really removed while she was in hospital? What caused her facial injury anyway? Why can’t she recall, which is the favorite lullaby of Elias? On the other hand, why should a secret twin sister slip into the role of the mother, lying constantly to the boys? That wouldn’t make much sense.
I think the assumption that the mother is actually the real mother is correct. Knowing the end we must conclude that Elias is going through a psychotrauma, in which the imaginary brother whispers doubts about her identity to him.
But there is still one detail that needs to be mentioned. It only caught my eye when I saw the movie for a second time …

While searching online I repeatedly encountered the comment that the house, which is extinguished in one of the last scenes by firemen, is not the one of the main plot. This is wrong. It’s just a different point of view. We always see the same house. The screenshots below prove this. And at this point I noticed something. Watch the extinguishing scene again. Do not pay attention to the fire. Look to the left. Do you see the woman in a bright dress moving slowly into the scene? She stops, stares a moment towards the fire and disappears in the darkness again …

In the final scene we see the two brothers and the woman reuniting. She is approaching them out of the the dark wearing the bright dress. It is their beloved mother. Together they sing the favorite lullaby of Lukas. I see, I see. At least the imagined end is a happy end.

Bilder / Images

Einzelbilder / frames
Einzelbilder aus dem Film „Ich seh Ich seh“ / film frames from the movie „Goodnight Mommy“. Click for full size / Klicken für Vollbild / image credit: Koch Media

The documentary „Swastika“ [1974] by Philippe Mora / die Dokumentation „Swastika“

Article in English [in deutsch siehe unten]
That’s the starkest documentary about the Third Reich, I have seen so far. At the age of 19 Franco-Australian film student Philippe Mora made the archive discovery of his life. With the help of a historian he found the Obersalzberg film roles that Eva Braun once stored in her bedroom at the Berghof and that were later seized by US military personnel.
Mora mixed these private recordings with Nazi propaganda material and created a documentary. Only in the second part of the movie he used footage from „the other side“. The movie misses any comment. Mora let the pictures speak for themselves. The documentary caused a scandal back then and was first shown in German cinemas 37 years later. The contrast between cosy mountain idyll, martial parades and evil propaganda is hard to overcome. The film conveys a sense of how powerful and thrilling the atmosphere was at that time. The Overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser combined with pictures of a country on the move, politics as religion, the Olympic Games, the eerily beautiful Riefenstahl scenes, Adolf and Eva at the Berghof playing cheerfully with  dogs, next to hate speech, first acts of violence against Jews and military armament. We all know what came and had to come. The German population did not know every detail, or did not want to know. Repression as a survival strategy. „Better go with the flow“ was the motto. Go with a movement unseen in history. Even in the faraway US there were tens of thousands who got infected by the Hitler mania. [This is also shown in the documentary.]
And then the second part of the movie. The great destruction. A crescendo of violence. Bombs, flashes of light, dead bodies, total war; sicker and more intense as any Hollywood production can ever be. Then camera flights over a completely devastated country, images from the concentration camps. So terrible that you don’t want to look at them.
Time for the end credits? No. The movie ends with a scene at the Berghof in which Hitler is hosting a few guests. Coffee and cake is served. I repeat. Coffee and cake. I can hardly imagine a more bitter contrast.
I recommend this movie to anyone who is not only interested in theories about mass psychology and the phenomenon of „ideology as a substitute for religion“, but who wants to sense an undertone, a mood, an inkling of ​​what was going on back then. Yes, the first part of the film is dangerous. It depicts Hitler as a human being and shows a country that is completely inebriated. But if one really wants to understand the events of that time, one has to expose itself to this.
Der Artikel in deutsch

Das ist der krasseste Dokumentarfilm über das Dritte Reich, den ich bisher gesehen habe. Als 19-jähriger Filmstudent machte der Franco-Australier Philippe Mora die Archiventdeckung seines Lebens. Mit Hilfe eines Historikers spürte er die von amerikanischen Armeeangehörigen auf dem Obersalzberg beschlagnahmten Filmrollen auf, die Eva Braun in ihrem Schlafzimmer auf dem Berghof gelagert hatte. Diese privaten Aufnahmen kompilierte er zusammen mit Propaganda-Material der Nazis zu einem Dokumentarfilm. Erst im zweiten Teil wird auch filmisches Material „der anderen Seite“ verwendet. Der komplette Film kommt ohne jeglichen Kommentar aus. Die Bilder sprechen für sich. Der Film löste damals einen Skandal aus und wurde in Deutschland erst 37 Jahre nach Entstehung im Kino gezeigt. Die Kontraste zwischen heimeliger Bergidylle, martialischen Paraden und bitterböser Propaganda könnten größer nicht sein. Der Film vermittelt ein Gefühl davon, wie mitreißend die Stimmung damals war. Die Ouvertüre zum Tannhäuser, dazu ein Land im Aufbruch, Politik als Religion, die olympischen Spiele, die schaurig-schönen Riefenstahl-Bilder, Adolf und Eva auf dem Berghof, mit Hunden spielend, fröhlich und ausgelassen, daneben Hassparolen, erste Gewalttaten gegen Juden, militärische Aufrüstung. Wir alle wissen, was kam, ja kommen musste. Die Bevölkerung wusste damals vieles nicht, oder wollte es nicht wissen. Verdrängung als Überlebensstrategie. Lieber mitschwimmen im großen Strom einer Bewegung, wie sie die Welt bis dahin noch nicht gesehen hatte. Selbst im fernen Amerika gab es zehntausende, die sich von der Hitlermanie anstecken ließen. Auch davon werden Bilder gezeigt.
Und dann der zweite Teil des Films. Die große Zerstörung. Ein Crescendo der Gewalt. Bomben, Lichtblitze, Tote, der totale Krieg; krasser als es jeder Hollywoodfilm nachstellen kann. Dann Kameraflüge über ein komplett zerstörtes Land, Bilder aus den Konzentrationslagern. So schrecklich, dass man nicht hinschauen will. Kommt nun endlich der Abspann? Nein. Der Film endet mit einer Berghof-Szene, in der Hitler ein paar Gäste bei sich bewirtet. Es gibt Kaffee und Kuchen. Ich wiederhole. Kaffee und Kuchen. Bitterer kann kein Kontrast sein.
Ich empfehle diesen Film jedem, der sich nicht nur theoretisch mit Massenpsychologie und dem Phänomen „Ideologie als Religionsersatz“ befassen will, sondern der darüber hinaus ein Gefühl, ein Stimmungsbild, eine Ahnung von dem, was damals abging, einfangen möchte. Ja, der erste Teil des Films ist gefährlich. Er zeigt Hitler als Menschen und ein vollkommen berauschtes Land. Doch wer das Geschehene wirklich begreifen will, muss sich dem Teil schon aussetzen.
Zur weiterführenden Lektüre hier eine Filmkritik von Sonja M. Schultz.

what this is all about

The Orcus of Oblivion

Libertine English / German blog about politics, science and computer stuff by Björn Buxbaum-Conradi aka sempervirentz

about bbc: born 1981 in Kassel, Germany. Studies of humanities in Trier and Frankfurt am Main. Master’s degree with a thesis on Robert Musil. Author of novellas and poems – and lately a novel.

motto: what gleams is born but for the moment’s pages …

about ooo: in the ephemeral world we live in the ecstasizing details are vanishing into oblivion quicker than light. This blog wants to be more than just a collection of snapshots in time, a sublime ambition of course, but at least an ambition. So look forward to coming posts.

favourite moviesimdb.com/list/ls071912659

The Hitler Easter Coincidence

Hitler’s birthday was on April 20, 1889, one day before Easter Sunday. The first year, where his birthday and the Easter Day were coincidental, was 1919, followed by 1924 and 1930.
In 1939 Hitler’s birthday was declared a national holiday in Nazi Germany. But only for this single year. The reason: Hitler became 50 in 1939. On this occasion the largest military parade in the history of the Third Reich was held in Berlin. Unfortunately [from Hitler’s point of view] the Easter Day was that year on April 9. Presumably he would have been pleased about such a coincidence on his 50th birthday, but he was unlucky: during the whole time he was in power there was no Easter Sunday on April 20.
At Easter 1945 [April 1] Hitler was already trapped in the Führerbunker. He did also celebrate his last birthday there. Ten days later he was dead.
Only in the next century Easter Sunday was again on April 20. In 2003 and yes: this year. Probably it is just irony of history that the most evil person mankind has seen and Jesus Christ share from time to time their feast day, but it leaves a strange gut feeling.
btw: there are two ‚Hitler Easter Days‘ left for this century: 2025 and 2098. The probability for Easter Sunday at April 20 is about 3.4%. The full distribution of Easter dates here.