What was the first chatbot in history?

Updated in March 2021.

Chatbots have been around for some time, but they have only gained popularity among users and companies alike in recent years. This change in awareness of chatbots and conversational AI is largely due to developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as the increasing popularity of messaging apps. Today, chatbots are used in various industries and for various applications. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the story of chatbots, what chatbots are and where they come from.

Read also : How do you create a chatbot?

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a communication interface that allows users to interact with companies and vice versa, easily and quickly. Click to tweet Essentially, it’s an often artificial smart program that chats with you and can inform you about everything what you want to know.

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Chatbots are already used in a variety of industries and in several areas today. For example, they can automate interactions with users, support business processes, gain information or perform tasks of a personal assistant.

A chatbot is usually implemented in text or messaging applications, but also in voice systems such as Google Assistants or Amazon Alexa. This allows users to make requests to the chatbot via text or language.

Want to learn more about chatbots for your business — download our ultimate chatbot guide.

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The development of chatbots

The first chatbot was developed by MIT Professor Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960s. Learn more about this and other well-known chatbots, mainly from the second half of the 20th century later.

The first chatbot was developed by MIT Professor Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960s. Click to tweet In 2009, WeChat created a more advanced chatbot in China. Since its introduction, the social media platform has won the hearts of many users.

WeChat is still quite easy to develop simple chatbots today. In addition, contact via chatbots is an increasingly popular way to simplify online communication for companies.

Although other messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Slack or Telegram are now more performing than WeChat, you can certainly develop smart chatbots on the Chinese platform. Chumen Wenwen, for example, was founded in 2012 by a former Google employee and designed a sophisticated bot based on WeChat .

At the beginning of 2016, we saw the first wave of artificial data technology in the design of chatbots. Social media platforms like Facebook have enabled developers to develop their own chatbots for Facebook Messenger.

There are already many platforms on which chatbots can be integrated today and chatbots are already part of our daily activities and conversations. You can chat or talk to them, or add them to chats with friends.

Over time, the transition from a pure communication interface to a complete conversational interface (conversational interface) took place. This is an interface that no longer requires a screen or mouse. Everything is controlled by dialogue.

Let’s go back to the earliest days in the history of chatbots and computers, where the desire for artificially intelligent technology and a conversational interface began.

The story of Chatbots — from ELIZA to Alexa

ELIZA

ELIZA was the very first chatbot ever. It was developed by MIT Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966. Weizenbaum used so-called pattern matching and substitution methodology to mimic human conversations.

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Users could enter words into a computer, which then paired the program with possible structured answers. The script used simulated a psychotherapist and later proved to be very significant for the progress of natural language processing, the ability of a computer to understand human language, and artificial intelligence.

The reactions of users, however, worried wheat tree. ELIZA should be a mere imitation of human conversations. But suddenly users have entrusted their deepest thoughts to the chatbot. Experts then explained that chatbots from People will no longer be distinguishable within a few years.

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Weizenbaum has far rejected the idea that machines could replace human mind. He argued instead that such programs are just tools and extensions of the human mind. He also stressed that understanding a computer’s language depends entirely on the context in which they are used. Computers cannot have a general understanding of human language.

In the decades that followed, many developers used Weizenbaum’s model to further develop human-like interactions with chatbots.

A common goal of many who work on chatbots and artificial intelligence technology is to pass the Turing Test . The Turing test was based on an idea by Alan Turing in 1950. It is used to determine whether a computer therefore has a machine, a mind that is equivalent to humans.

A common goal of many who work on chatbots and artificial intelligence technology is to pass the Turing Test. Click to tweet

PARRY

PARRY is a natural language program that is similar to a person’s thinking. It imitated a patient with schizophrenia with the aim of better understanding the disease. American psychiatrist Kenneth Colby developed the program in 1971.

PARRY works through a complicated system of assumptions and “emotional responses,” which triggers verbal input.

He was the first to undergo a variation of the Turing test in the early 1970s. Psychiatrists interacted with the program using a keyboard and with real schizophrenia patients. Psychiatrists were only able to distinguish PARRY from patients in around half of the interactions.

Fifty years ago, Kenneth Mark Colby was the only psychiatrist who thought about how computers could contribute to understanding mental illness. He then started the “Overcoming Depression” program that continued until his death in 2001.

Also interesting: The top 10 benefits of chatbots for companies and customers

Jabberwacky

Jabberwacky aims to simulate a natural-looking, fun and humorous chat with a human partner. Rollo Carpenter created it in 1988.

Jabberwacky has contributed a lot to technological progress and is still used for research purposes today. The chatbot uses so-called pattern recognition to calculate suitable answers.

Dr. Sbaitso

Creative Labs developed Dr. Sbaitso for MS-dos in 1992.

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It is one of the earliest efforts to include artificial intelligence in a chatbot and is recognized for its fully voice-driven chat program.

Dr. Sbaitso interacted with users in the form of a psychologist. However, the answers were usually quite simple, such as “Why do you feel like this? “instead of complicated interactions.

A.L.I.C.E. (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity)

A.L.I.C.E. is a natural language chatbot that has been inspired by ELIZA.

Richard Wallace paved the way for the development of A.L.I.C.E. 1995. Initially, the program was known as Alicebot because it was supposed to run on a computer called Alice.

Wallace used the XML schema known as “Artificial Intelligence Markup Language” (AIML). It’s a minimalist language accessible to everyone for developing chatbots like A.L.I.C.E.

ALICE has the personality of a young looking woman that reports users about their age, hobbies, and other fascinating facts, as well as answers questions.

If you want, you can chat with A.L.I.C.E. here .

But don’t forget, the program is from 1995, so don’t expect too much from the user interface and design 😉

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smarterChild

smarterChild was a predecessor of Siri in many ways.

The chatbot was developed in 2001 and was available on AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger. You could mainly have fun conversations with the bot, but the program also had quick data access to other services such as weather, news etc.

Siri

Siri , our intelligent personal assistant with natural language user interface, was developed by Apple for iOS in 2010.

It was and remains a cornerstone for all other artificially intelligent bots and intelligent personal assistants.

Siri is constantly being developed and improved. It was not until May 2017 that a patent was filed for a new service from Apple. Users can make requests to Siri via messages.

Similar to Facebook messenger bots and other messaging apps, Apple’s patent describes that Siri could perform the same tasks as it currently does, but without users having to speak to Siri out loud. Siri could respond to text, audio, image, and video files the user sends.

Google Now/Google Assistant

Google Now answers questions, performs various activities and gives recommendations.

Under a package of updates and user interface modifications for mobile search, Google’s female assistant was also introduced in 2012 and has been competing with Siri ever since.

At first, you could use Google Now to get appropriate information based on location and local time. However, it quickly developed into a more complicated program, with a wide range of content categories and options. We can currently use it on smartphones.

Google Now was replaced by Gooogle Assistant in 2017. Today, the assistant is part of a more aggressive growth strategy in Google Search. The idea is simple, Google wants to deliver information in an easy-to-read format before you even know you need it.

Also interesting: why Google Assistant is up front at the moment

Cortana

Cortana first appeared in 2014 at a Microsoft conference and integrated with mobile Windows devices and Windows 10 PCs shortly afterwards.

The program uses voice recognition and relevant algorithms to understand and respond to voice commands.

To start Cortana, you have to type a question in the search bar or talk to Cortana via microphone.

Cortana can keep reminders based on time, place or people, send emails and messages, create lists, have small talk, play games, find facts and other information for you.

The story of chatbots – Onlim explains the career from ELIZA to Alexa! Click to tweet

Alexa

Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant introduced by Amazon in 2014. It is built into devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show and more today. There is also an Alexa app and some third-party devices that have implemented Alexa.

Just say “Alexa, play music” or “Alexa, find an Italian restaurant” and she’ll help you out.

Using voice commands, Alexa can search for information from the web, play music, create to-do or shopping lists, set the alarm, play podcasts or audiobooks, read news and weather reports, control all your smart home products, and more.

To constantly expand Alexa’s capabilities, developers can publish their own skills with the so-called Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). We can then download these skills for free via the Alexa app.

As you can see, the history of chatbots goes back a few years. If you have questions about the topic or would like to talk about a chatbot for your company, contact us gladly.

More resources

Gaglio, S., Lo, RG, & Springerlink (OnlineService). (2014). Advances on the Internet of Things: How Ontologies Make the Internet of Things Meaningful. (Springer eBooks.) Cham: Springer International Publishing.

MacTear, M., Callejas, Z., & Griol, D. (2016). The conversation interface:conversation with smart devices.

Perez-Marin, D., & Pascual-Nieto, I. (2011). Conversational means and natural language interaction: techniques and effectivepractices.Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Warwick, K., & Shah, H. (2016). Turing’s imitation game: Conversations withthe Unknown.

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