1954 Home Computer Claims Victim

image There should be an award like the Darwin Awards, except instead of being given to people who die in stupid ways it would be given to people who display extreme gullibility. If there was such an award, Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, would be this week's candidate for it. During the keynote address at the Oracle OpenWorld Show he displayed a picture, supposedly from 1954, of what the RAND Corporation imagined that a home computer would look like in 2004 (see the thumbnail: click to enlarge). His point was that people fifty years ago could hardly imagine what the computers of today would look like, and we can't imagine what computers will look like fifty years from now. But the picture he showed wasn't fifty years old. It's a hoax photo that's been going around the internet for the past three months. It began its life as an entry in a Fark Photoshop contest (theme: "Photoshop this mock-up of a submarine's maneuvering Room"... this photo easily won the contest). Apparently, McNealy hadn't yet learned where the photo really came from. Now, I'm sure, he knows.
Update: Here's a Popular Mechanics article about the 1954 Home Computer image and its creator, a Danish software designer named Troels Eklund Andersen.

Photos Technology

Posted on Thu Dec 09, 2004


Why don't you do the award you mentioned, Alex? You seem highly qualified to do it.
Posted by BugbearSloth  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  06:37 AM
Maybe name it the Scott McNealy prize and try to persuade Sun Microsystems to sponsor it...
Posted by Paul in Prague  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  07:10 AM
I do think you should do it, Alex, although maybe not with a real person's name. Maybe something like 'the Piltdown Prize'. The person would have to do the gullible thing in the public eye, though, like the example here. Corporations, too, could be included.

Another one was that city which banned dihydrogen monoxide.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  08:02 AM
Ow! You hurt me! Get rid of that apostrophe in the possessive "its."

On topic, didn't he find it even a LITTLE strange that the "computer of 2004" has a steering wheel? Maybe it's for driving games.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  09:02 AM
PlantPerson, the article itself (follow the link) actually quotes him making a comment about the steering wheel.

Somehow, though, it failed to trigger and alarm bells!
Posted by Paul in Prague  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  09:04 AM
I can't believe I put an apostrophe in that 'its'. I almost never make that mistake. Well, <u>it's</u> corrected now.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  10:04 AM
Are you sure McNealy wasn't hoaxing his audience, sort of making a joke?
The picture is pretty clever, but if you look at it closely it's pretty obviously a photomontage. The scale and the lighting of the different objects don't match each other.

The new award should be called the "Tom Ridge Award," after the Cabinet member who told us all to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting in case of a poison gas attack.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  12:27 PM
OMG, I can't believe I fell for this! I posted an 8x10 of that photo on my office bulletin board about 6 months ago and my boss (who was born in '54) and others got a good laugh from it, but we never suspected it was fake (though much discussion was had about the "steering wheel")
I'll be sure to research more carefully next time.
Posted by John.  on  Fri Dec 10, 2004  at  09:37 AM
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