Electrophysiology is the study of neural activity in the form of local field potentials, current flow through ion channels, calcium spikes, back propagating action potentials and somatic action potentials, all measurable on a millisecond timescale. Despite great progress in imaging technologies and sensor proteins, none of the currently available tools allow imaging of neural activity on a millisecond timescale and beyond the first few hundreds of microns inside the brain. The patch clamp technique has been an invaluable tool since its inception several decades ago and has generated a wealth of knowledge about the nature of voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels, sub-threshold and supra-threshold activity, and characteristics of action potentials related to higher order functions. Many techniques that evolve to be standardized tools in the biological sciences go through a period of transformation in which they become, at least to some degree, automated, in order to improve reproducibility, throughput and standardization. The patch clamp technique is currently undergoing this transition, and in this review, we will discuss various aspects of this transition, covering advances in automated patch clamp technology both in vitro and in vivo.