Humanities Computing Laboratory

Do you work with languages
Do you work with printed text
Do you work with graphics, video, and other multimedia material
Do you work with the World Wide Web
The Humanities Computing Laboratory

may be the very place you are looking for.

I would like to introduce to you a few of the services offered to the academic community by the Humanities Computing Laboratory, formerly known as the Humanities Computing Facility of Duke University.

Our statement of purpose:

"The Humanities Computing Laboratory is a nonprofit education and research corporation, dedicated to promoting global standards in the encoding, exchange, and preservation of written and spoken language data. It seeks to provide tools which, in the context of those standards, systematically and collectively address the common needs of scholars in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences for capturing in electronic form, typing, and displaying complex language characters and scientific symbols."

We have primarily been developing Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) applications since our beginnings in 1979. During the early years of personal computing in the 1980s, when computers were being transformed from number crunchers into the logic engines with broad relevance for our lives which they are today, our predecessor, the Humanities Computing Facility of Duke University, under the direction of our founder, the late Prof. Frank Borchardt of the Dept. of Germanic Languages and Literature, pioneered many humanistic applications in language, literature, and the arts.

We created the language learning and authoring system CALIS ("Computer-Assisted Language Instruction System"), for DOS, and WinCALIS, for Microsoft Windows. WinCALIS and our Unicode-compliant multilingual editor UniEdit have user-friendly foreign language interfaces which permit the courseware developer and the learner alike to type easily in most of the world's languages. CALIS, WinCALIS, and UniEdit have been licensed for use in education around the world.

In the process of developing these products for DOS and Windows, the Humanities Computing Laboratory has accumulated a great deal of know-how in the PC/DOS/Windows environment. To this we have more recently added experience with the Mac and Linux/Unix platforms. We may sometimes turn out to be your best source for academic problem-solving, especially for "legacy" data and moving data from one platform to another or to the World Wide Web.

We are humanists first and can relate well to the computing needs of departments beyond those in science and engineering. But as our statement of purpose suggests, there are many technical issues which cut across disciplinary boundaries. Whether your field is chemistry, theology, or a world literature, you likely face comparable issues of comfortably typing and correctly displaying "difficult" information. And the relatively simple task of putting ink on paper is no longer adequate. In today's world and for posterity, your text must be accurately rendered in contexts over which you have little control.

The information here describes some of the services we can provide. For small academic-related jobs (less than one hour) there is usually no charge to Duke faculty and students. We can also do larger jobs at very reasonable rates, thanks to using appropriate technology. Please get in touch with us by telephone or e-mail, or stop by our office if we may be of service to you. We are happy to supply references or free estimates and samples, based on your specifications.

Best wishes,

Richard Kunst, Ph.D.
Humanities Computing Laboratory

Who Are We?

HCL Services


  • Conversion of Print Materials to Electronic Medium
  • Through the magic of document scanning and optical character recognition, we can take your print materials and reinvent them in electronic form. We helped a professor of music to scan musical scores from an 18th-century manuscript for incorporation in his book. Dust off that old out-of-print edition of your scholarly treatise and let us give it new life, so that you can edit it with your word processor and publish it anew. Perkins Library was able to scan a catalog of all Duke theses and dissertations up to 1972 concerning South Asia, using our equipment and resources. If you have a considerable amount of any printed material, save yourself the time and energy of retyping. And we can scan in most of the languages of the world.

  • Multilingual Desktop Publishing, Data Conversion, Translation
  • We can take disks and files encoded in just about any character set, language, and format and convert them into another format. We assisted a professor of English to transform 20th-century British Literature texts from an obsolete word processor format on 360K diskettes into World Wide Web documents for students to access easily. We can also arrange to have your text translated from or to English and most of the world's languages. For example, we have provided camera-ready copy of Duke officials' names and titles for printing name cards in Chinese and Japanese.

    View PDF Version of our HCL Services Brochure (includes information and pricing)

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    Humanities Computing Laboratory
    109 Lariat Ln. Suite B
    Chapel Hill, NC 27517 USA
    Tel: +1 (919) 656-5915

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