In the "old days", computers and software could only simulate real-world designs. But today, computers and software can "target control algorithms directly to custom board designs", to quote Tom Shelley in Eureka Magazine.
In other words, computers can now put their designs DIRECTLY INTO the real-world product. According to Shelley, the NXT (with its LabView software) illustrates the melding of computer design with the machine itself. Read Shelley's articlehere.