MICR characters were added to the "Unicode Standard in June, 1993 with the release of version 1.1.
The Unicode block that includes MICR characters is called Optical Character Recognition and covers U+2440–U+245F:
|"Optical Character Recognition
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Before the mid-1940s, "cheques were processed manually using the Sort-A-Matic or Top Tab Key method. The processing and "clearance of cheques was very time consuming and was a significant cost in cheque clearance and bank operations. As the number of cheques increased, ways were sought for automating the process. Standards were developed to ensure uniformity in financial institutions. By the mid-1950s, the Stanford Research Institute and General Electric Computer Laboratory had developed the first automated system to process cheques using MICR. The same team also developed the E13B MICR font. "E" refers to the font being the fifth considered, and "B" to the fact that it was the second version. The "13" refers to the 0.013 inch character grid.
In 1958, the "American Bankers Association (ABA) adopted E13B font as the MICR standard for "negotiable documents in the United States. By the end of 1959, the first cheques had been printed using MICR. The ABA adopted MICR as its standard because machines could read MICR accurately, and MICR could be printed using existing technology. In addition, MICR remained machine readable, even through overstamping, marking, mutilation and more.
MICR technology has been adopted in many countries, with some variations. In 1963, "ANSI adopted the ABA’s E13B font as the American standard for MICR printing. Although compliance with MICR standards is voluntary in the United States, their use with "cheques is almost universal. E13B MICR has also been standardized as "ISO 1004:1995. The E13B font was adopted as the standard in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and other countries.
The CMC-7 font was developed in "France by "Groupe Bull in 1957. It was adopted as the MICR standard in Argentina, France, Italy, and some other European countries.
In the 1960s, the MICR fonts became a symbol of modernity or futurism, leading to the creation of lookalike "computer" "typefaces that imitated the appearance of the MICR fonts, which unlike real MICR fonts, had a full character set.
MICR, or E-13B, is also used to encode information in other applications like: sales promotions, coupons, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance premium receipts, deposit tickets, and more.