With all the current discussion about robotics and artificial intelligence, this seems like an anniversary worth noting: the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was formally announced on February 15, 1946. (Or maybe it was February 14.) Originally developed to compute artillery trajectories, it was sufficiently general in its design that it could be programmed to address other kinds of problems as well. The programming was originally done with patch cords, but soon a sort of stored-programming approach was developed wherein the patch cord layout remained the same and the program was entered via an array of rotary switches.
See also Robot Mathematician Knows All The Answers, about the Harvard Mark I, a slightly earlier computer that was electromechanical rather than purely electronic in its operation, and a post about the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator, a ‘supercomputer’ of 1954.
I wonder if these early computers would have made such a strong popular impression if they had not been so physically large.