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The IBM booth at an American Hospital Association meeting in Atlantic City in the 1950s. The booth was showing off IBM’s new electronic time system for tracking employees' time 24/7 and a bedside nurse call system with a new feature that put speakers at the bedside. Add some color and a bowl of free thumb drives and it wouldn’t look much different from a meeting booth today. (Credit: American Hospital Association/Fred Hess & Sons)

 

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In the 1940s, a scientist from the Rand Corp. created this predictive model of what a home computer would look like in the year 2004. The scientist said he expected scientific progress to advance far enough to allow for his off-the-wall predictions, one being that the use of a teletype interface (no mouse can be seen, though) and the Fortran programming language would make the computer simple to use. (Ha! For more on Fortran, see below). It appears as if the designers also expected the computer to be drivable, given the steering wheel. (Credit: Rand Corp.)

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If you went to college in the 1970s, you probably took a basic computer programming class with stacks of these dreaded punch cards, which were difficult at best to use, even in Fortran. The tagline “Input Reason • Output Pleasure” was advertising spin referring to what we’re not sure. (Credit: National Museum of Computing)

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Did you know the first Apple computers conceived by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were made of wood? But don’t think you can find one on eBay or Craigslist at a bargain price. Less than 100 are believed to exist and one recently sold at auction in London for $815,000. (Credit: Ed Uthman)

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Not sure what these guys are looking at, but the guy on the right looks really worried. And he should be. This computer had 19,000 tubes. If one blew, good luck finding it. This 1950s monster was called the WITCH, an acronym for Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell. Seems as though the IT gang had a quirky sense of humor even back then. If only it used Fortran. (Credit: National Museum of Computing)