Genetic algorithms came from the research of John Holland, in the University of Michigan, in 1960 but won't become popular until the 90's.
Their main purpose is to be used to solve problems where deterministic algorithms are too costly. Travelling salesman problem or the knapsack problem fit the description.
In the industry, genetic algorithms are used when traditional ways are not efficient enough.
The ST5 X-band antenna was designed thanks to a genetic algorithm. This type of antenna is best for a certain radiation pattern and is much more efficient than standard antennas (for instance, helical antenna), partly because of its asymmetrical shape.
Genetic algorithms are part of the evolutionist algorithms category. They make use of the evolution theory to solve problems.
These algorithms are "biosinspired" because they mimic living creatures' fitting in their environment for survival.
Genetic algorithms focus on the genetic material evolution inside a group of individuals. In each generation, individuals reproduce and share their genetic material. When applied to the population as a whole and followed on multiple generations, it is called genetic recombination.