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The photograph was actually created in 2004 by Danish software sales and support technician Troels Eklund Andersen as an entry in a Fark Photoshop contest. (Fark regularly challenges its readers to digitally alter images in amusing ways.)
Andersen took a photo of a submarine's maneuvering room on exhibit at the Smithsonian (bottom), made it black-and-white, then pasted in the teletype printer, the old-style television, and the man. Then he added the text at the bottom. He never imagined the image would generate the response it did, nor that it would start circulating by email and fool so many people. It even fooled Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, who displayed it at a computer conference as proof of the impossibility of predicting future technology.