Closed captioning has a long history. Similar things actually began in the late 1800s with the intertitles (subtitles placed between scenes) of the silent movies. Here is another little piece of information. Subtitles are dialog-only while captions include things like atmospheric noises. Open captions are permanent. Closed captions can be turned off by the user.
Once talkies started in the 1920s, the need for intertitles and subtitles ran out. This made movies impossible for the deaf. A deaf actor named Emerson Romero, brother of actor Cesar, found himself out of a job because he could not speak well enough when in the silent movies that did not matter. He found a new passion instead. He pushed for keeping the subtitles for the deaf community but did not get very far with it. Still, it did influence things in later decades.
The first captioning agency, The Caption Center, was founded in 1972 at WGBH, the public television channel in Boston. Due to their work, the first captioned television program aired on March 16, 1980--The French Chef with Julia Child.
All this eventually led to captioning for telephones. I found half a dozen dates, but it seems that the patent for a captioned phone was first applied for on July 28, 2003. That patent was approved and issued to Robert Engelke, Christopher Engelke, and Kevin Colwell on April 26, 2005.
However, this voice recognition technology is not the perfect cure. For one thing, it takes a minute sometimes for the captions to register and print up on the screen. Recorded menus will not wait a minute for the computer to recognize the words and print them, and then for the caller to read them. By the time the whole process has occurred, the pleasant little voice will be saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that,” and unlike a real person, you can’t interrupt and explain. I still have to deal with the menus for Keith.
Then there is the machine’s inability to recognize every word. If a speaker is not loud enough, all you get is “Voice unclear.” If a word or name is odd, it will come up with the closest “normal” name it can find in its vocabulary. I have been everything from “Jane” to “Jeanie.” And if the word is something not in a dictionary, like a brand name or company name, the machine goes completely haywire. Not long ago, Keith had to call a man about our septic tank. In the course of the call, the man recommended we use Rid-X. What did the machine print on the screen?
“You’ll have to put some rednecks down their once a month.”
Yet another time when I was talking to Lucas, the machine told me something about a “pork picture.” Lucas had said nothing even remotely close to cameras or ham. But the computer decided he had, simply because his speech was a little garbled at that point in the conversation. He was a little excited, talking quickly.
It doesn’t have to be a closed caption system to show us our words are a little garbled occasionally, especially when we stop and think about what we just said. Think about prayer for a moment.
I’ve heard people say, “I don’t want to bother God with my little problems.” Did you really say that? You don’t want to “bother” God? As if you think that God considers hearing from His children a “bother?” Is that actually how you feel about your children? Haven’t you read the parable of the unjust judge?
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Luke 18:1-8
If an unjust judge will pay attention to someone who “bothers” him, certainly a loving God will pay attention to someone He does not consider a bother at all. In fact, he will give justice “speedily.” Don’t think you are saving God trouble and merely being considerate. Jesus said that when we won’t lay all our troubles on a Father who loves us, that the problem is a lack of faith, not an abundance of courtesy.
And sometimes I hear, “God has too much to worry about without me unloading all my problems too.” Once again, a lack of faith cloaked in consideration. If you believe God is who He says He is, you cannot give Him too much to do. In fact, the very wonder of it is that He pays attention to us at all! What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:4. But pay attention He does, and He has the power to take my problems and your problems and everyone else’s problems and fix them in the blink of an eye.
And I could go on with some of the thoughtless things I have heard—and said. Sometimes our words are garbled. They simply don’t make sense. It would behoove us to listen to ourselves once in a while and straighten them out, because they certainly don’t give a pretty picture of our hearts.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45