Research in "Artificial Intelligence" a unique and curious field of Computer Science has begun to existence even before John McCarthy proposed term "Artificial Intelligence" at DartMouth Conference in year 1956. But the one month long Conference united a scattered group of individual researchers who were playing with their individual ideas inside their private labs.
This was the Founding Statement Quoted by McCarthy
"We propose that a 2 month, 10 man study of artificial intelligence be carried out during the summer of 1956 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves. We think that a significant advance can be made in one or more of these problems if a carefully selected group of scientists work on it together for a summer."
This conference was actually fruitful for a various society of AI enthusiasts. If we drill down back to the origin of achievement in AI , we will find someone quoted similar idea back then. in 60's.
So how did the term AI Winter appeared?
Back in 80's Researchers faced a series of surreal situation in their research. Funding were not available anymore and neither any of the investors of Think Tank were interested in Artificial Intelligence Research. Researchers of this field faced several criticism and disappointments. AI Winter was named with resemblance of Nuclear Winter .
Lacking the efficient tools to coin their Theory into a practical application and prove it, they needed to face mean critic and disappointments. As a outcome many of the researchers step back to their private labs and kept working on it on their own investments as much as they can.
I've listed some Researchers who faced a hard time during the AI Winter here. They have great contributions in Artificial Neural Networks and are also knows as the backbone behind the Google's Deep Dream