Sala Seminari (Dip. Matematica).
The history of asteroid families, from their discovery back in 1918, until the present time, is briefly reviewed. Two threads have been followed: on the development of the theories of asteroid motion and the computation of proper elements, and on the methods of classification themselves. Three distinct periods can be distinguished: the first one until mid-1930s, devoted to discovery and first attempts towards understanding of the properties of families; the second one, until early 1980s, characterized by a growing understanding of their importance as key evidence of the collisional evolution; the third one, characterized by an explosion of work and results comprises the contemporary era. An assessment is given of the state-of-the-art and possible directions for the future effort, focusing on the dynamical studies, and on improvements of classification methods to cope with ever increasing data set.