I should have seen this coming, but I didn't: computer nerds have opinions about the 1957 movie Desk Set. It is propaganda! From Wikipedia:
The room-sized EMERAC units (which is the size computers really were then) are portrayed as big, mechanical babies that need a safe environment (preparing people for the air conditioning requirements, both temperature and filtration, and other engineering considerations of real computers) and human beings, not only to program and maintain them, but to love them, too, for them to be able to carry out their intended missions. The explicit moral of the story, articulated by Sumner/Tracy so no one can miss it, is that a computer is not a monster that will take people's jobs away but a tool that will make their work easier and more enjoyable.
It's so clear to me now: the purpose of this "movie" was to subconsciously prepare people for the eventual necessity of air-conditioning their robots! Nerds why do you think so much? While I was watching Desk Set all I was thinking was OH GOD I WISH COMPUTERS ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE THIS.