They were invented by Apple, here you can see the patent here
Swipe gestures for touch screen keyboards
US 8059101 B2
Systems, methods, and devices for interpreting manual swipe gestures as input in connection with touch-sensitive user
interfaces that include virtual keyboards are disclosed herein. These
allow for a user entering text using the virtual keyboard to perform
certain functions using swipes across the key area rather than tapping
particular keys. For example, leftward, rightward, upward, and
downward swipes can be assigned to inserting a space, backspacing,
shifting (as for typing capital letters), and inserting a carriage
return and/or new line. Various other mappings are also described. The
described techniques can be used in conjunction with a variety of
devices, including handheld devices that include touch-screen
interfaces, such as desktop computers, tablet computers, notebook
computers, handheld computers, personal digital assistants, media
players, mobile telephones, and combinations thereof.
They also had the following related patents previous to the specific swipe patent above:
Apple's Granted Patent Incorporates a Great Number of Important
Apple's granted patent is related to the following U.S. patents and
patent applications, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference
in its entirety: U.S. Pat. No. 6,323,846, titled "Method and Apparatus
for Integrating Manual Input," issued Nov. 27, 2001; U.S. patent
application Ser. No. 10/840,862, titled "Multipoint Touchscreen,"
issued May 6, 2004; U.S. Provisional Patent Application No.
60/804,361, titled "Touch Screen Liquid Crystal Display," filed Jun.
9, 2006; U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/883,979, titled
"Touch Screen Liquid Crystal Display," filed Jan. 8, 2007; U.S. patent
application Ser. No. 11/367,749, titled "Multi-functional Hand-held
Device," filed Mar. 3, 2006; U.S. patent application Ser. No.
11/228,737, titled "Activating Virtual Keys of a Touch-Screen Virtual
Keyboard," filed Sep. 16, 2005; U.S. patent application Ser. No.
11/228,700, titled "Operation of a Computer with a Touch Screen
Interface," filed Sep. 16, 2005; U.S. Pat. No. 6,677,932, titled
"System and Method for Recognizing Touch Typing Under Limited Tactile
Feedback Conditions," issued Jan. 13, 2004; and U.S. Pat. No.
6,570,557, titled "Multi-touch System and Method for Emulating
Modifier Keys Via Fingertip Chords," issued May 27, 2003.
However, there were companies that used swipe gestures before Apple, even patented then, such as Swedish company Neonode, who patented the swipe to unlock gesture as early as 2002. You can see their patent here