Eliza parodies a Rogerian therapist, largely by rephrasing many of the patient's statements as questions and posing them to the patient. Thus, for example, the response to "My head hurts" might be "Why do you say your head hurts?" The response to "My mother hates me" might be "Who else in your family hates you?" ELIZA was named after Eliza Doolittle, a working-class character in George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, who is taught to speak with an upper class accent.
Additional comments by developer Joseph Weizenbaum:
Eliza is a computer program by Joseph Weizenbaum, which, designed in 1966, is generally recognized as the first chatbot
Joseph Weizenbaum (Berlin, January 8, 1923 - March 5, 2008) was a German-American author and professor emeritus of computer science at MIT.
Born in Berlin, Germany to Jewish parents, he escaped Nazi Germany in 1935, emigrating with his family to the United States. He started studying mathematics in 1941 in the US, but his studies were interrupted by the war, during which he served in the military. Around 1952 he worked on analog computers, and helped create a digital computer for Wayne State University. In 1956 he worked for General Electric on ERMA, a computer system that introduced the use of the magnetically-encoded fonts imprinted on the bottom border of checks. This allowed automated check processing via Magnetic Ink Character Recognition, and in 1964 took a position at MIT.
Until his death he was Chairman of the Scientific Council at the Institute of Electronic Business in Berlin. In addition to working at MIT, Weizenbaum held academic appointments at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Bremen, and other universities. Weizenbaum was reportedly buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Berlin. A memorial service was held in Berlin on March 18, 2008.