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The Timeline of Artificial Intelligence – From the 1940s

back to main menu

The Timeline of Artificial Intelligence – From the 1940s

This blog will take a thorough dive into the timeline of Artificial Intelligence. Beginning from the very start, the 1940s.

The term “Artificial Intelligence” was first coined by the father of AI, John McCarthy in 1956. But the revolution of AI began a few years in advance, i.e. the 1940’s. Around 37% of industries have implemented AI in some form, which is a 270% increase for the past 4 years. AI has taken multiple forms over the years. We’ve seen the inclusion of AI in watches, smart home systems, voice assistants, messaging platforms and various other platforms. 

Here, we’ll discuss the course of AI over the last few decades by covering the milestones of AI and how these have shaped the world. Thus, a brief evolution of AI from the 1940s to the 2000s.

An infographic showing the timeline of artificial intelligence

1. Enigma broken with AI (1942) 

using the bombe machine
The Bombe Machine

This is first up our lane in the timeline of Artificial Intelligence. The Bombe machine which was designed by Alan Turing, during World War II, was the turning point in cracking the German communications encoded by the Enigma machine. It helped in speeding up the decoding of messages. Hence, this allowed the allies to react and strategize within a few hours itself rather than waiting for days/weeks. His entire formula of breaking the code was with the observation that each German message contained a known piece of German plaintext at a known point in the message.

2. Alan Turing – test for machine intelligence (1950)

photo of Alan Turing

Alan Turing, the world’s most renowned computer scientist, and mathematician had posed yet another experiment to test for machine intelligence. The idea was to understand if the machine can think and make decisions as rationally and intelligently as a human being. In the test, an interrogator has to figure out which answer belongs to a human and which one to a machine. So, if the interrogator wouldn’t be able to distinguish between the two, the machine would pass the test of being indistinguishable from a human being.

3. John McCarthy – the father of AI (1955)

John MaCarthy - father of AI

John McCarthy is the highlight of our history of Artificial Intelligence. He was an American Computer Scientist, coined the term Artificial Intelligence in his proposal for the Dartmouth Conference, the first-ever AI conference held in 1956. The objective was to design a machine that would be capable of thinking and reasoning like a human. He believed that this scientific breakthrough would happen within 5-5000 years. In 1958, he created the Lisp computer language, which became the standard AI programming language and is still used today.

4. Unimate – the industrial robot (1961)

industrial robot

Unimate was the first industrial robot created by George Devol. She was used on a General Motors Assembly line to transport die castings and weld these parts on autobodies. The workers had to be extremely cautious while performing this activity. Else, it could lead to poisoning or losing a limb. Unimate known for its heavy robotic arm weighed 4000 pounds. After its success, several replicas were made and various industrial robots were introduced.


5. First chatbot – Eliza (1964)

The first chatbot in the timeline of artificial intelligence

The next invention marks a huge discovery amongst the timeline of Artificial Intelligence, as the market for it is still thriving. Eliza – the first-ever chatbot was invented in the 1960s by Joseph Wiezenbaum at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Eliza is a psychotherapeutic robot that gives pre-fed responses to the users. Such that, they feel they are talking to someone who understands their problems.  Here, the main idea is that the individual would converse more and get the notion that he/she is talking to a psychiatrist. Of course, with continuous development, we are now surrounded by many chatbot providers such as drift, conversicaintercom, etc.

6. Shakey – the robot (1969)

Shakey, in the timeline of artificial intelligence

Next lined-up in this timeline of Artificial Intelligence is Shakey. Shakey is titled as the first general-purpose mobile robot. It was able to reason with its own actions. According to the plaque displayed in IEEE, Shakey “could perceive its surroundings, infer implicit facts from explicit ones, create plans, recover from errors in plan execution, and communicate using ordinary English.” The robot had a television monitor and whiskers to detect when it came close to any object. Interestingly, the robot itself would plan the route it would take so that it could carefully manoeuvre around obstacles. Shakey “communicated” with the project team with a teletype and a CRT display. Also, the team would judge how Shakey reacted to pranks.

7.Supercomputer- Deep Blue beats chess legend (1997)

Gary Kasparov playing against Deep Blue
Gary Kasparov Vs Deepblue

This was a gamechanger in the timeline of Artificial Intelligence. DeepBlue was a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. It was the ultimate battle of Man Vs Machine, to figure out who outsmarts whom. Kasparov the reigning chess legend, was challenged to beat the machine – DeepBlue. Everyone glued to the game was left aghast that DeeBlue could beat the chess champion – Garry Kasparov. This left people wondering about how machines could easily outsmart humans in a variety of tasks.

8. Kismet – the emotionally equipped robot (1998)

Kismet - the emotionally equipped robot

Kismet (meaning: fate) was one of the first robots able to demonstrate social and emotional interactions with humans. It had a cartoonish face and always had the ability to engage with people and make them smile. The entire code to run and develop kismet took the developers about 2.5 years. The motor outputs include vocalizations, facial expressions, and motor capabilities to adjust the gaze direction of the eyes and the adjustment of the head. Therefore, it portrayed a variety of emotions such as disgust, surprise, sadness, keen interest, calmness and infuriated.

9. Roomba – the vacuum cleaning robot (2002)

Roomba - cleaning robot

AI has taken over the scope of cleaning as well. With the introduction of Roomba, cleaning at home is now a lot more efficient. The vacuum is able to trap 99% of allergens with the vacuum’s High-Efficiency Filter. So, once it finishes cleaning, all you have to do is empty the wastebasket and you’re good to go.  The device has a suite of sensors built right into it so that it doesn’t get trapped under the furniture, fall down the stairs and so on. Not only that, but the vacuum even integrates with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant—so you can have the floors cleaned only using your voice and your preferred digital assistant.

10. Siri (2011)

Siri, in the timeline of artificial intelligenc

Number 10 in the timeline of Artificial Intelligence is Sri. It is a virtual assistant that uses voice queries and a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform virtual actions as requested by the user. Thus, you can ask Siri to make a call, send a message, or perform any other action with the apps on your phone. Siri comprises of three components – a conversational interface, personal context awareness, and service delegation.

11. IBM Watson (2011)

ibm watson

Watson is a question-answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language. The famous quiz show Jeopardy resulted in the development of Watson! Watson competed against champions, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. Interestingly, won the first-place prize of $1 million on the show. Watson helps you predict and shape future outcomes, automate complex processes, and optimize your employees’ time.

12. Alexa (2014)

Alexa under the timeline of artificial intelligence

Next up, in the history of AI is Alexa. Alexa is a  virtual assistant Artificial Intelligence system, developed by Amazon. This voice assistant is available on a lot of devices such as on Fitbit, your car monitor, on your speakers, the TV, and various other platforms. As soon as you say “Alexa”, the device gets activated and performs the activity. Thereafter, it filters your voice from a room filled with commotion. Alexa is able to play music, provide information, deliver news and sports scores, tell you the weather, control your smart home. And even allow Prime members to order products from Amazon.

Suggested Reading: 3 Questions to Ask When Someone Says Their Chatbot is “AI-Powered”

The timeline of Artificial Intelligence doesn’t stop here, it continues to bring much more creativity into this world. We have witnessed gearless cars, AI chips, Azure- Microsoft’s online AI infrastructure, and various other inventions. We’ll keep updating our post with the latest of inventions. Stay tuned.

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