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The Vacuum Tube that Changed the World
When thinking about the future of the Internet a lot of people make comparisons to radio. The consensus seems to be that currently the Internet is about equal to what radio was in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Back then everyone seemed to know that radio would take off and change things, but few people had an idea of it's full potential. Interestingly enough, radio and computers actually share a common ancestor: the Audion. The Audion is the original name of the vacuum tube that Lee De Forest invented for AT&T, back when it was still American Telephone and Telegraph Company. The invention of the Audion helped make it possible for Alexander Graham Bell, who was in in San Francisco, to call Watson in New York. But that was just the beginning. Soon the Audion would find its way into other devices, and pave the way for the future of electronics.
Besides their use in telephone, Audion vacuum tubes became a useful way to boost radio signals. They were eventually used in televisions and even the ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and computer) ballistics computer. At its peak, ENIAC used over 19,000 vacuum tubes, also known as triodes, to power its calculations.