The idea of living things being intelligent has a long history. The ancient Greeks mythologized robots, and Chinese and Egyptian engineers constructed automated machines.
The beginnings of modern AI may be traced back to ancient thinkers' attempts to describe human thought as a symbolic system. However, the AI camp did not become official until 1956, when the phrase "artificial intelligence" was invented at a symposium held at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Marvin Minsky, an MIT psychologist, and others who attended the symposium had high hopes for AI's future. In the book "AI: The Tumultuous Search for Artificial Intelligence," Minsky was reported as saying, "The problem of developing 'artificial intelligence will be considered solved in the next generation" (Basic Books, 1994).
But attaining the intelligent creature was not easy. After several reports criticizing progress on AI, government funding and interest in the sector has declined - a period from 1974-80 known as "AI in winter." The camp was rebuilt in the 1980s when the British government began subsidizing it again to compete with Japanese efforts.
From 1987 to 1993, the sector went through another big winter, which coincided with the market's collapse for several general-purpose computers and diminished government financing.