Digital Attic

Dag Spicer, senior curator at the Computer History Museum, discusses 1950s mainframes, an original Apple One and Steve Wozniak's baby shoes

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Absolutely, yes! In fact the Roomba, the little automatic vacuum cleaner, is selling by the tens of hundreds of thousands [on the market]. It's intelligent; you can turn it on and just let it go.

Our museum has lots of robots that seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was just no way. For example, a lot of them in the '70s, they were basically like a car stereo with an eight-track player and two speakers, in some kind of plastic shell to make it look like a person or a robot—and a couple of flashlights for eyes. They're a joke. You would never use them. They would probably just fall down the stairs and break into a million pieces or set your house on fire. So it'll be a while I think before we get real robots.

But you don't really need robots. We are building intelligence into much simpler things, like light switches and your car. Those are all really useful things.


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