Back in the Fifties, when I was a mere lad, an after work bull session developed the proposition that in the twenty-first century robots would be doing all the work, while a man would earn a year’s pay for a week’s make-work, flying off to somewhere in the world to sit in a room and watch a display board full of dazzling lights, ready to push a button he didn’t know was not connected to anything. Little did we know that Mauchly and Eckert’s 20,000 vacuum tube computer they called ENIAC humming away in the basement of the University of Pennsylvania just a few blocks away was going to change the world.

Oh Eniac, thou of the tubes
What thinkest thou of we the rubes
Did baby steps come into mind
Did you dream thoughts that your own kind
Would replace man in Heaven’s eyes
Or was it all a big surprise
Sitting there in that big room
Vacuum tubes dispelling gloom
Did you perceive that you would be
The parent of my Dell PC

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