25 July 2005

Experts Terrible at Predicting Future. So what else is new?

While digging up the links for the Telus post, I came across the union's humour page. The caption on this precious photo reads as follows:
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.
About the only thing right is the bit about the scientific progress in 50 years. Now, where did I put my old Fortran manuals?


Harold Jarche said...

Interesting - but some sources say that the photo is a fake: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/computer.asp

Mark Federman said...

Indeed! From the snopes entry: "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 a Fark.com 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)"

Fark.com and Worth1000.com have great photoshop manipulation contests, and are often... well, worth 1000 words.