In March 1988, a group of researchers gathered in Monterey, California to participate in a workshop titled: "Architectures for Intelligent Interfaces". It was the beginning of what at first would be a slow but steady development of the field of Intelligent User Interfaces. Three years later, the book Intelligent User Interfaces was published edited by Joe Sullivan and Sherman Tyler, the organizers of the workshop. The book highlighted the main papers presented in the workshop and served as a basis for not only future work, but also future events that continued that work. It was not until 1993, however, that Bill Hefley and Dianne Murray organized the First International Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces, which took place in Orlando, Florida. The event, sponsored by ACM, attracted a nascent group of researchers whose work clearly defined the field as a novel and promising intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction.

With a growing body of work in the field of IUI and a lack of an established outlet for such work at the time, Angel Puerta and Ernest Edmonds led an effort to create a permanent leading forum for research in intelligent user interfaces. The result was the first IUI conference in 1997 defined as a yearly event and conceived from the start as a highly selective program focusing on the quality of research, and on the value of the contribution of each accepted paper. Over the fifteen-year span since that initial event, the IUI conferences have established the significance and breadth of the field, and have built a valuable reference body that inspires new research every day across the globe.