Who knew? Turns out that Siri, the voice-activated application that comes with the brand spankin' new iPhone 4S, has its roots in the military.
Wired.com put together a family tree of sorts for Siri (not to be confused with Tom Cruise's daughter Suri) and found the app started out as a project funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
Long story short: About a decade ago DARPA funded a company called SRI International to develop PAL - short for Personalized Assistant that Learns. (There is a awesomely cheesy video made by DARPA back in the day that shows off PAL, and I've posted it below.)
Not much came of the project, and so after a few years SRI International spun off another company called Siri Incorporated, and it further developed PAL into the iPhone App we now call Siri. Apple later bought Siri for $200 million, according to Wired.com.
The Washington Post explains Siri this way:
Here's DARPA's super-duper PAL video, posted on YouTube: