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Issue 105 - August 2010 - Page 19

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Mars, Earth - Closest Approach in Recorded History
  2. Falsely Attributed Quote - A Norman Rockwell Moment
  3. Telstra Bill Account Update Phishing Scam
  4. Scammers Pose as Microsoft Tech Support Workers to Hijack Computers
  5. Laptop Fire Death Warning Email
  6. Verified By Visa Banking Incident Phishing Scam
  7. St. Augustine Find - Huge Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  8. Free Blackberry Storm for Forwarding Hoax
  9. Five Headed Cobra Hoax Images
  10. AOL Update Billing Information Phishing Scam
  11. Kevin Rudd Fire the Cattle Guards Hoax
  12. Resignation Of Barack Obama Virus Hoax
  13. Decorative Magnets on Refrigerators - Cancer Warning Hoax
  14. Knob Face Trojan Worm Warning Message
  15. Face Book Promotion Advance Fee Scam
  16. BlackBerry RIM Inactive Account Hoax
  17. Circulating Request - Help Pooja Find Her Parents
  18. Black in the White House Virus Hoax
  19. 1954 Home Computer Hoax
  20. Debbie Shwartz Charity Hoax

Issue 105 Start Menu

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1954 Home Computer Hoax

Outline
Caption accompanying a widely circulated image claims that the picture depicts how scientists in 1954 imagined a home computer set-up would look in 2004.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the caption are false. The picture does not depict a 1954 prediction of how a home computer might look in 2004. In fact, the picture was an entry in a Fark.com Photoshop contest that uses a Smithsonian exhibit photograph depicting a full-scale mock-up of a typical nuclear-powered submarine's maneuvering room as a source image.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 7th July 2010
First published: May 2005
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Subject: 1954 computer prediction

1954 Home Computer prediction




Detailed Analysis
 Submarine's maneuvering room mockup
The source photograph used as a base for the fake image
The caption accompanying the above image claims that it depicts how scientists in 1954 imagined a home computer set-up would look like in 2004. The image has been a popular topic for online forum posts and is also circulating via email. Some versions assert that the image was included in a 1954 edition of "Popular Mechanics".

The text below the image states:
Scientists from the RAND corporation have created this model to illustrate how a "Home Computer" could look like in the year 2004. However, the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the FORTRAN language, the computer will be easy to use.
In fact, no such "Home Computer" model was created. Nor was the image published in any 1954 edition of "Popular Mechanics". In fact, the image is the end result of some clever manipulation of a real photograph that depicts a full-scale mock-up of a typical nuclear-powered submarine's maneuvering room. The mock-up was part of a Smithsonian exhibit and carried the following explanation:
Washington, D.C., Apr. 10, 2000 A full-scale mock-up of a typical nuclear-powered submarine's maneuvering room in which the ship's engineers control the power plant and electrical and steam systems. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Tim Altevogt.
The manipulated, "home computer" image was in fact an entry in a Photoshop competition organized by Fark.com. The entry was submitted by a Fark user posting under the name lukket. (Editor's Note: Some of the entries in this Fark competition are no longer available on the site. However, lukket's entry is still showing up at the time of writing. Scroll down the entry page to view the image)

The image has been accepted as legitimate by many people and has generated a lot of sometimes amusing debate. Some have postulated that the large wheel in the picture was intended to fulfil the function of the modern-day mouse. Others have pondered if a FORTRAN based system with a teletype interface would really be that "easy to use".

Even though the image is a fake, it does serve to illuminate the fact that our predictions of the future are often highly inaccurate. A quote attributed to a 1949 edition of Popular Mechanics states that "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." And Ken Olson, of Digital Equipment Corp is famously quoted as postulating, "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

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References
Fast Attacks and Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War
Fark - Photoshop this mock-up of a submarine's maneuvering Room
Fark Profile - lukket



Previous Article            Next Article

Issue 105 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Mars, Earth - Closest Approach in Recorded History
  2. Falsely Attributed Quote - A Norman Rockwell Moment
  3. Telstra Bill Account Update Phishing Scam
  4. Scammers Pose as Microsoft Tech Support Workers to Hijack Computers
  5. Laptop Fire Death Warning Email
  6. Verified By Visa Banking Incident Phishing Scam
  7. St. Augustine Find - Huge Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  8. Free Blackberry Storm for Forwarding Hoax
  9. Five Headed Cobra Hoax Images
  10. AOL Update Billing Information Phishing Scam
  11. Kevin Rudd Fire the Cattle Guards Hoax
  12. Resignation Of Barack Obama Virus Hoax
  13. Decorative Magnets on Refrigerators - Cancer Warning Hoax
  14. Knob Face Trojan Worm Warning Message
  15. Face Book Promotion Advance Fee Scam
  16. BlackBerry RIM Inactive Account Hoax
  17. Circulating Request - Help Pooja Find Her Parents
  18. Black in the White House Virus Hoax
  19. 1954 Home Computer Hoax
  20. Debbie Shwartz Charity Hoax