I first laid hands on a personal computer in 1979, and I owned my first – a TRS-80 Model 1 – in April 1980. One of the first programs I got for it was called Eliza, which was a knock-off of an online "psychiatrist" developed at MIT back in 1966.
It was a very simple program, but in those days, it seemed like utter magic.
I was reminded of my old therapist friend this morning, as I was reading the very positive reviews of the Siri voice-activiated digital assistant built into Apple's new iPhone 4S (and which sent AAPL to a new lifetime high). It looks like a really cool new system, and I'm tempted to upgrade from my current phone, a lowly 3S, and not hold out for an iPhone 5 (which, when it comes out, will probably cook you breakfast).
The funny thing is that this site is suddenly getting a lot of attention as a repository of the funny responses Siri gives to, errr, non-standard queries. We've come a long way since the days of Eliza.