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A Brief History of Virtual Assistants

Everywhere we look today, we see the extent to which the internet impacts our lives. As technology and smartphones have rapidly evolved, we see a mega expansion in career opportunities for professionals sitting at home.


Gone are the days when a profession meant having an 8 to 5 job with no fair work-home balance. If one needed evidence of how much technology has really evolved the way we live, the pandemic and the world’s incredible speed at adapting to a work-from-home model is testimony to it.

But how did the concept of virtual employees really evolve? How was the virtual assistant industry able to overshadow the secretarial services industry? Here is how it all happened.


Giving rise to the virtual assistant industry, up to the point where it is now the most lucrative and sought-after job field, began in the early 1940s. Sir Isaac Pitman invented the shorthand method, the initiation of the secretarial services industry.

His first secretarial school only allowed men until the invention of the typewriter made the entry of females in the industry possible. Women kept occupying office jobs from thereon until men completely disappeared from this market by the 1930s.

Typewriters evolved into word-processing systems, and word processors transformed into telephones and fax machines, and technology kept progressing.

Going Virtual

By the 19th century, technology had refashioned to such an extent that it gave birth to the Internet in 1994, a medium that made business transactions possible even sitting thousands of miles away. This evolution marked the birth of the virtual industry when Thomas Lenard, a life coach, and Anastasia Stacy Brice, uttered the term “virtual assistance” in 1996.

Stacy became the living definition of this new job market by working as a full-time secretary from home for her international client. She used the internet to provide services such as travel planning, personal assistance, administrative support, and so on.

She addressed herself as a ‘virtual assistant,’ and the term became so contagious that it eventually became the definition of an emerging and exciting profession. The year 1997 saw the professionalization of the virtual assistant industry under the AssistU organization.

Christine Durst founded the virtual assistant industry in 1995 and wrote the book “The Second Commute.” She addressed this establishment as a revolution in working from home and encouraged masses around the world to maximize the advantages of the internet. She encouraged professionals to pursue their passions, their unique sense of independence, and their personal goals while earning at home.

In Demand Today

It is so plainly evident how high in demand virtual assistants are today. Both big and small businesses realize how scaling will help them earn high return amounts with virtual assistants. Some of the many benefits of the virtual assistant model include:

  • Cost-effective
  • Not having to incur costs like insurance and others
  • Having the flexibility to scale up and down as seems fit
  • A wide market of available competent and skilled professionals
  • No hassle of long-term contracts
  • Having more time, independence, and freedom to do what an individual loves while also expanding their business

Final Thoughts

The rate and extent at which the virtual assistant industry has grown since it took birth from the secretarial professional are remarkable and extraordinary. One can only wonder at how virtualization is professionalizing its ranks massively.

Globalization will soon diminish all the flat structures of organizations. The prospects for business outsourcing, however, will only continue to rise. There is no doubt why and how virtual assistance and online jobs will continue to flourish in times to come.