The Animus was the crowning achievement of the late Dr. Warren Vidic, the world's leading authority on genetic memory, who achieved a first class degree in Basket Case Studies at the University of Nutjob. Although the Animus is an Abstergo Industries invention, our own Gadget Witch Rebecca Crane managed to build a version of the device for the Assassins.
(FUCKIN' RIGHT I DID! - RC)
Please don't use my keyboard while I'm attending to nature, Rebecca. Anyway, since the creation of animus technology in 1980, Abstergo has used it on at least 17 test subjects, and the machine itself has gone through several iterations. By 2002, they began to mass produce Animi, installing them in their facilities around the planet. The Templars created the Animi Training Program in order to train its soldiers, like the ever-charming Otso Berg, in combat.
Early on, the Animus could only display the genetic memories of an individual's own bloodline. However, as the technology progressed, Abstergo developed the Data Dump Scanner, which allowed users to relive genetic memories of other people. It was first used in Project Legacy, an initiative designed to obtain new information on Assassins and Pieces of Eden.
Dr. Vidic used the Animus in an attempt to find an Apple of Eden to complete the Eye-Abstergo satellite project. When Subject 16 committed suicide, driven insane by the Bleeding Effect (a result of overexposure to the device), the Lineage Research and Acquisition Division delivered Subject 17, a man named Desmond Miles, Although Desmond was able to locate an Apple of Eden, he escaped with help from the Assassins and later returned to kill Vidic.
In 2012, Abstergo Entertainment used the technology to create interactive historical simulations, beginning with Liberation. Although Abstergo markets its virtual features as entertainment products, it's more accurate to label it as "brainwashing that also spies on you."