In the early days, Walter Isaacson says, computers were "big ol' things with vacuum tubes" that took up entire rooms. For example, the electric analog computer named ANACOM (shown here in 1950 at Caltech) weighed 6,000 pounds and filled 13 cabinets.
The story of how the digital age came to be involves a cast of more than 40 people, ranging from a 19th century English countess to California hippies.
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