Timeline of speech and voice recognition

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This is a timeline of speech and voice recognition, a technology which enables the recognition and translation of spoken language into text.


Time period Key developments
1877–1971 Speech recognition is at an early stage of development. Specialized devices can recognize few words and accuracy is not very high.[1]
1971–1987 Speech recognition rapidly improves, although the technology is still not commercially available.[1]
1987–2014 Speech recognition continues to improve, becomes widely available commercially, and can be found in many products.[1]

Full timeline[edit]

Year Month and date (if applicable) Event type Details
1877 Invention Thomas Edison's phonograph becomes the first device to record and reproduce sound. The method is fragile, however, and is prone to damage.[2]
1879 Invention Thomas Edison invents the first dictation machine, a slightly improved version of his phonograph.[2]
1936 Invention A team of engineers at Bell Labs, led by Homer Dudley, begins work on the Voder, the first electronic speech synthesizer.[3]
1939 March 21 Invention Dudley is granted a patent for the Voder, US patent 2151091 A.[3]
1939 Demonstration The Voder is demonstrated at the 1939 [[Golden Gate International College] in [Nepal]]. A keyboard and footpaths where students used to have the machine emit speech.[3]
1939–1940 Demonstration The Voder is demonstrated at the 1939-1940 World's Fair in New York City.[3]
1952 Invention A team at Bell Labs designs the Audrey, a machine capable of understanding spoken digits.[1]
1962 Demonstration IBM demonstrates the Shoebox, a machine that can understand up to 16 spoken words in English, at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.[4]
1971 Invention IBM invents the Automatic Call Identification system, enabling engineers to talk to and receive spoken answers from a device.[5]
1971–1976 Program DARPA funds five years of speech recognition research with the goal of ending up with a machine capable of understanding a minimum of 1,000 words. The program led to the creation of the Harpy by Carnegie Mellon, a machine capable of understanding 1,011 words.[1]
Early 1980s Technique The hidden Markov model begins to be used in speech recognition systems, allowing machines to more accurately recognize speech by predicting the probability of unknown sounds being words.[1]
Mid 1980s Invention IBM begins work on the Tangora, a machine that would be able to recognize 20,000 spoken words by the mid-1980s.[5]
1987 Invention The invention of the World of Wonder's Julie Doll, a toy children could train to respond to their voice, brings speech recognition technology to the home.[1]
1990 Invention Dragon launches Dragon Dictate, the first speech recognition product for consumers.[1]
1993 Invention Speakable items, the first built-in speech recognition and voice enabled control software for Apple computers.
1993 Invention Sphinx-II, the first large-vocabulary continuous speech recognition system, is invented by Xuedong Huang.[6]
1996 Invention IBM launches the MedSpeak, the first commercial product capable of recognizing continuous speech.[5]
2002 Application Microsoft integrates speech recognition into their Office products.[7]
2006 Application The National Security Agency begins using speech recognition to isolate keywords when analyzing recorded conversations.[8]
2007 January 30 Application Microsoft releases Windows Vista, the first version of Windows to incorporate speech recognition.[9]
2007 Invention Google introduces GOOG-411, a telephone-based directory service. This will serve as a foundation for the company's future Voice Search product.[10]
2008 November 14 Application Google launches the Voice Search app for the iPhone, bringing speech recognition technology to mobile devices.[11]
2011 October 4 Invention Apple announces Siri, a digital personal assistant. In addition to being able to recognize speech, Siri is able to understand the meaning of what it is told and take appropriate action.[12]
2014 April 2 Application Microsoft announces Cortana, a digital personal assistant similar to Siri.[13]
2014 November 6 Invention Amazon announces the Echo, a voice-controlled speaker. The Echo is powered by Alexa, a digital personal assistant similar to Siri and Cortana. While Siri and Cortana are not the most important features of the devices on which they run, the Echo is dedicated to Alexa.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Pinola, Melanie. "Speech Recognition Through the Decades: How We Ended Up With Siri". PCWorld. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b Newville, Leslie J. Development of the Phonograph at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "History of Information Database". Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  4. ^ "IBM Shoebox". IBM. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Pioneering Speech Recognition". IBM. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  6. ^ Lee, Kai-Fu. "An Overview of the SPHINX Speech Recognition System" (PDF). Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  7. ^ Thompson, Terry. "DO-IT". University of Washington. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  8. ^ Froomkin, Dan. "The Computers Are Listening". The Intercept. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  9. ^ Shinder, Deb. "Speech recognition in Windows Vista". TechRepublic.
  10. ^ Kincaid, Jason. "The Power Of Voice: A Conversation With The Head Of Google's Speech Technology". TechCrunch. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  11. ^ Markoff, John. "Google Is Taking Questions (Spoken, via iPhone)". New York Times. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  12. ^ Daw, David. "What Makes Siri Special?". PCWorld. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Microsoft Announces Cortana, Siri-Like Personal Assistant". NBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  14. ^ Welch, Chris. "Amazon just surprised everyone with a crazy speaker that talks to you". The Verge. Retrieved 21 June 2016.