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To advance research, it is important to identify promising future research directions, especially those that have not been adequately pursued or funded in the past. The working group producing this article was charged to elicit from the human language technology (HLT) community a set of well-considered directions or rich areas for future research that could lead to major paradigm shifts in the field of automatic speech recognition (ASR) and understanding. ASR has been an area of great interest and activity to the signal processing and HLT communities over the past several decades. As a first step, this group reviewed major developments in the field and the circumstances that led to their success and then focused on areas it deemed especially fertile for future research. Part 1 of this article will focus on historically significant developments in the ASR area, including several major research efforts that were guided by different funding agencies, and suggest general areas in which to focus research.