It is January 7, 1954. A select group assembles at the offices of the International Business Machines Corp to witness the first public demonstration of machine translation. The IBM 701, the company’s first commercial scientific computer, filled a whole room.
With a memory capacity of about 20 kilobytes and the ability to carry out 2000 multiplications a second, the 701 was about one million times less powerful than present-day personal computers. Nevertheless the event, later known as the Georgetown-IBM experiment in a nod to its academic co-sponsor, made history.