Nomination
An MIT staff member nominates the Wilbur Machine, "A mechanical calculator with 13,000 parts, weighing a half ton and about the size of a small car. MIT boasted in a 1936 press release: "Once the conditions of the equations have been set on the machine, a single movement of the mechanisms carries out in a few seconds mathematical processes that might require hours or days by ordinary methods."

Invented by John Wilbur '26, SM '28, ScD '33, department head in Civil Engineering from 1944-1960. The machine could solve up to nine simultaneous linear equations and was heavily in demand, since at the time solving one single example could take a day's strenuous effort. Nobody knows what happened to the original machine, but the Japanese had made a pirated copy and used it to derive formulas for aeronautical research during World War II. They put their machine prominently on display in the National Science Museum in Tokyo in an exhibit, "The Dawn of the Information Age," in 2001."

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