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TWAIN is a standard software protocol and applications programming interface (API) that regulates communication between software applications and imaging devices such as scanners and digital cameras.

The latest version of the TWAIN standard is TWAIN 2.1, released on July 8, 2009. TWAIN 2.1 Features include: open source, supports: Unix/Linux, 64-bit, MICR, PDF/A, automatic image rotation, infrared pixel type, and auto sized images, automatic color detection, auto selection between feeder and flatbed.[1]



The word TWAIN is not an official acronym; however, it is widely known as "Technology Without An Interesting Name." The official website notes that "[this name] continues to haunt the standard."[2] The TWAIN group originally launched in 1992 by several members of the imaging industry, with the intention of standardizing communication between image handling software and hardware. The word TWAIN is from Rudyard Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West" — "...and never the twain shall meet..." — reflecting the difficulty at the time of connecting scanners and personal computers.

Vision statement

The TWAIN Working Group is a not-for-profit organization which represents the imaging industry. TWAIN's purpose is to provide and foster a universal public standard which links applications and image acquisition devices. The ongoing mission of the organization is to continue to enhance the standard to accommodate future technologies.


Objectives of the TWAIN Working Group and standard include:

  • Ensure image-handling software and hardware compatibility
  • Keep the specification current with the state of current software and hardware while maintaining backward compatibility
  • Provide multiple-platform support
  • Maintain and distribute a no-charge developer's toolkit
  • Ensure ease of implementation
  • Encourage widespread adoption

Supported technologies

TWAIN provides support for:

TWAIN Working Group membership

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