Before computers came along, the word "configure" was generally used to describe putting a machine together or adjusting a machine in one of multiple alternative possibilities.
For example, I dug up these references in older books:
"Configure and test compressor ... configure and test alternative low-emissions burner ..." Should We Have a New Engine 1975
"In deciding what to include in the payload of a missile we build and how to configure our missile sites, we have to estimate the likely military forces that will confront us year after year throughout the planning period." Arms and Influence, 1966
This example is at a higher level:
"At the battalion level the net control station radios of the battalion operations FDC are the most critical If radios are redistributed to configure for a split FDC operation the operations FDC should have the highest priority." Field Artillery Canon Battalion, 1979
I also found a government document about "configuring the first floor" of a building, something about setting up classrooms, but the reference was cut off.
Here it's used to describe an economic system:
"Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden have chosen to configure their public policies and their industrial structure to take maximum advantage of the more mature phases of development in products and processes." Technology and Global Industry, 1987
Apparently the word was also used to describe language:
"A natural language consists of an indefinitely large number of terms (or expressions), many of which do NOT configure with each other to form intelligible or significant sentences." Philosophy East & West, 1976
I found a bunch of references to configuring words and ideas.