This takes me back. I had 2D and 3D computer animation classes in college back in '84.
Our 2D animation was done on Apple ][e computers that had a digitizing tablet and a special graphics card and monitor. We had a video digitizer too which was a black and white video camera and it had a disk in front of the lense that had a red, green, and blue filter on it. Anything you digitized was digitized three times, once with each filter in order to get a colour image. It took an hour to digitize each colour in high resolution.
Our 3D animation was on state of the art 286 PCs but were rendered on a mainframe. We could render on the PC but it would take hours so we worked strictly with wireframes. There was a mode where it would only displace the wireframes visible to the camera but it was slow too. I can't remember what the software we were using was called but it had no rigging. Most of our models were just built out of simply primitives. You'd move the primitives around, keyframe it and tween it to animate.
This was a few years before the Commodore Amiga but it seemed so high tech at the time. If I took my laptop back in time and showed it to my class along with the software I'm using now and demonstrated a quick model and animation they'd probably burn me at the stake for being a witch.
The digitizing tablets we had didn't even have pens. They had a mouse that had a piece of plexiglass on the front with a coil of wire embedded into it and a cross hair in the middle of the coil which is where you were drawing.
If you wanted to make a model that wasn't simply simple primitives put together and stretched and shrunk into different shapes you had to manually enter in the vertex positions. We'd make the models on graph paper and then enter the vertexes and hope we didn't fuck up conceptualizing it on paper and in our heads.
One of our projects was to make a human head. They all looked pretty freaking sad but we felt so cutting edge at the time.