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Introduction to Virtual Assistants and Companion Devices 1

Many of my friends are interested in using virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. So I created a guide for them to use. Over the next few posts, I will share that with you. Hopefully, you find it interesting and useful as well.

A brief history of virtual assistants

 When I started teaching, I taught secretarial skills that helped my students get high-paying jobs. I taught typing and Pitman shorthand, invented in the 1830s. The job of secretarial assistant has given way to the new. Typewriters evolved into word-processing systems, and word processors transformed into telephones and fax machines, and technology kept progressing. In the 1990s, with the birth of the Internet; in 1994, business transactions were possible even from sitting thousands of miles away. This evolution marked the birth of the virtual industry when Thomas Lenard, a life coach, and Anastasia Stacy Price, coined the term “virtual assistance” in 1996.

Stacy became the living definition of this new job market by working as a full-time secretary from home for her international client. She used the Internet to provide services such as travel planning, personal assistance, and administrative support. She addressed herself as a ‘virtual assistant,’ and the term grew so contagious that it became the definition of an emerging and exciting profession. The year 1997 saw the professionalization of the virtual assistant industry under the AssistU organization.

Christiane Fürst founded the virtual assistant industry in 1995 and wrote the book “The Second Commuting Commute.” She referred to this as a revolution in working from home and encouraged the masses around the world to maximize the advantages of the Internet. She encouraged professionals to pursue their passions, independence, and personal goals while earning at home.

Virtual devices date back to the early 1960s when researchers experimented with speech recognition technology. In the 60s, computers were large, expensive, and not yet powerful enough to handle speech recognition algorithms. However, as computing technology advanced, so too did virtual assistant development.

One of the earliest examples of a virtual assistant was ELIZA, a program created in the mid-1960s by MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum. ELIZA simulated conversation by using a pattern-matching algorithm to respond to users’ inputs. While ELIZA was not capable of true artificial intelligence, it was a pioneering example of natural language processing technology.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, research on virtual assistants continued to advance, with new systems being developed for tasks like speech recognition, language translation, and voice synthesis. In 1992, IBM released a virtual assistant called Simon, designed to recognize and respond to spoken commands. Although the term “smartphone” was not coined until 1995, because of Simon’s features and capabilities, it has been retrospectively referred to as the first true smartphone.

However, it wasn’t until the widespread availability of high-speed internet and powerful computing devices that virtual assistants gained popularity among consumers. In 2011, Apple introduced Siri, a virtual assistant for iOS devices that responded to voice commands and answers questions. Since then, other tech giants like Amazon and Google have developed their own virtual assistants, such as Alexa and Siri.

We find virtual assistants in everything from smartphones and smart home devices to cars and wearable technology. As artificial intelligence and machine learning technology advance, it is likely that virtual assistants will become even more sophisticated and integrated into our daily lives.

Originally Published on https://boomersnotsenior.blogspot.com/

I served as a teacher, a teacher on Call, a Department Head, a District Curriculum, Specialist, a Program Coordinator, and a Provincial Curriculum Coordinator over a forty year career. In addition, I was the Department Head for Curriculum and Instruction, as well as a professor both online and in person at the University of Phoenix (Canada) from 2000-2010.

I also worked with Special Needs students. I gave workshops on curriculum development and staff training before I fully retired

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