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An automatic evolutionary search is applied to the problem of feature extraction in an OCR application. A performance measure based on feature independence is used to generate features which do not appear to suffer from peaking effects . Features are extracted from a training set of 30 600 machine printed 34 class alphanumeric characters derived from British mail. Classification results on the training set and a test set of 10 200 characters are reported for an increasing number of features. A 1.01 percent forced decision error rate is obtained on the test data using 316 features. The hardware implementation should be cheap and fast to operate. The performance compares favorably with current low cost OCR page readers.