The following article acts as a good basic primer for anyone discovering speech recognition for the first time (be it on their personal computer, or down the end of the phone). (Follow the linked heading for the full article).
For those of us who used typewriters with whiteout or eraser ribbons - we can only dream of what our past might have been! All those 30 page papers I had to do at college would not have seemed so daunting, if I would have had speech software back then. But I suspect that the long history of speech recognition software is still news to most people (and professors) today. I had an interesting discussion with an English teacher who watched a demonstration of speech. Like the calculator has been to arithmetic, this teacher was sure that speech recognition would ruin the written language. Perhaps. Or maybe it is just a return to a more ancient form - the oral tradition.
Of the many types of users of speech recognition today - most are in the words business. They are people who use extensive numbers of words in their profession. So it is lawyers, physicians, judges and educators who tend to be the early adopters. Most of them were already used to dictation so the idea of speaking their thoughts was already comfortable. Other categories are executives who want to be able to control their personal email dictation. People with disabilities that limit their ability to use the computer keyboard or mouse have also found speech as their way to surf the web, play games, send email or do their work. It is liberating.