Back on September 9th over on Fark.com there was a Photoshop contest where participants were asked to manipulate a mock up of a submarine’s maneuvering room. One of the submissions was the following image which portrays the control room as being a guess on what a Personal Computer in the year 2004 might look like:
It’s a clever and amusing picture and I can recall getting a pretty good chuckle over it when I saw it for the first time on Fark. It’s also apparently easy to believe. As often happens, someone ended up emailing the pic to someone else who ended up forwarding it onto yet someone else and so on and along the way someone decided it would be funny to claim the picture was from an old 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics. It wasn’t long before it was showing up on various blogs all the while whizzing around the net clogging up email servers by the thousands. Ha! Ha! People back in the 50’s were such morons!
That this happened isn’t at all surprising. What is surprising is the fact that a couple of big IT CEOs, whom you’d be inclined to think would know better, fell for the hoax hook, line, and sinker resulting in the folks at Popular Mechanics writing up a “don’t blame us” article pointing out that it’s a fake. Not that there were entirely certain about that themselves at first.
A manipulated photo of a mock submarine console (above), passed off as a 1950s projection of the 2004 home computer, was used by Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Scott McNealy in his Oracle OpenWorld keynote speech yesterday in San Francisco to illustrate how rapidly technology improves. And this past fall, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor posted the image on his blog before later posting a correction.
Even we scratched our heads for a minute after first seeing the graphic. But after a closer look, everyone agreed that something wasn’t quite right. More research revealed, much to our relief, that this was one prediction we did not make.
Good old Snopes.com has had an entry up about it for awhile now, but even without consulting Snopes all it should take is a good close look to see that this isn’t likely to be a real picture. Still, it’s funny and it makes people feel for a little while that they’re smarter than those who came before us so most folks don’t bother to question it, but it’s still surprising the number of folks involved in the IT industry who are fooled by it. Not three days ago it made an appearance in a staff meeting I had to attend where at least two of us (me being one of them) had to bum everyone else out by revealing the truth. I’m such a party pooper.