'Computer of The Future' Photo Is A Hoax

Abhijeet Chavan's picture
According to Urban Legends References Pages, the widely circulated 1954 photograph of what a home computer in 2004 would look like is an Internet hoax. The website provides details:

Although the photograph displayed could represent what some people in the early 1950s contemplated a "home computer" might look like (based on the technology of the day), it isn't, as the accompanying text claims, a RAND Corporation illustration from 1954 of a prototype "home computer." The picture is actually an entry submitted to an image modification competition, taken from an original photo of a submarine maneuvering room console found on U.S. Navy web site, converted to grayscale, and modified to replace a modern display panel and TV screen with pictures of a decades-old teletype/printer and television (as well as to add the gray-suited man to the left-hand side of the photo).

 Doctored Photo  Original Photo

CNet News reports that Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems and Lotus founder Lotus founder Mitch Kapor fell for the hoax too.

Even though the picture may be a hoax, the point that the picture is supposed to illustrate is still valid and McNealy made it during the keynote at which he presented the picture:

"It's hard to imagine where we'll be 50 years from now"

On a related note, the "Transportation Futuristics" website offers a fascinating look at what the future of transportation really looked like in the past.
Abhijeet Chavan is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Planetizen.


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