As we all know today, forerunners to the personal computer look nothing like our machines today. Westinghouse Electric's "Mechanical Einstein," which resembled an enormous telephone switchboard, could instantly solve higher mathematics equations that would otherwise take weeks to compute. To use the machine, the engineer would plug in particular wires and knobs to receive the answer. At this point, computers weren't programmable -- if anything, they were more like glorified calculators -- but using one beat solving problems with a simple pen and paper.
Read the full story in "Machine Solves Hard Problems"