The Roomba’s Unpredictable, Oddly Mesmerizing Path to Amazon

The first robot that many human beings welcomed into their homes was a peculiar creature born 20 years ago with a funny name. It didn’t look the way we imagined robots, and it didn’t perform the tasks we envisioned outsourcing to robots. We pictured self-driving cars. We got a self-driving vacuum cleaner.

But this robot that became more popular than anyone could have predicted was more powerful than it looked and far more influential than you might suspect.