Chatbots are over fifty years old, but the technology is still evolving. Despite recent advancements, the history of chatbots hasn’t been all plain sailing. In its latest infographic Parker Software, creator of WhosOn live chat software, has illustrated the history of chatbots. The infographic, Bots – the good, the bad and the ugly, can be downloaded from the WhosOn website here.

The history of chatbot technology begins in 1966, when Joseph Weizenbaum created an early natural language processing computer program, Eliza. The program was designed to mimic human conversations by matching user prompts to pre-scripted responses. Since Eliza’s creation, technologists have experimented with the creation of several different chatbot programs and software applications.

Only in recent years are we beginning to see chatbot technology used in everyday applications — think Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. While some could argue that these intelligent, voice activated assistants are not truly chatbots, these applications are introducing the wider consumer market to the possibility of chatbot technology in our homes, workplaces and on the go.

“Eliza may have been developed over fifty years ago, but chatbot technology is still in its infancy,” explained Howard Williams, marketing director at Parker Software. “It’s only been in recent years that we have started to understand the potential of chatbot technology from a business perspective, rather than as a novelty or as a technological experiment.

“Without even realising, many customers will have interacted with chatbots on customer service calls or live chat applications. However, it’s important that customer service is not completely reliant on this technology to manage complaints,” continued Williams. “As chatbots continue to evolve, it is vital that organisations take steps to explore the technology before fully implementing it into their customer service efforts.”

Parker Software provide business automation software and live chat applications for ecommerce organisations. In the company’s upcoming book, The Conversation Engine, the technology experts at Parker Software will be exploring the potential, the future and the risks around using chatbots for customer service.