Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Cautionary picture

I ran across this (undated) picture today, while catching up with some blog reading.

The caption reads: “Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this mdoel 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…

What I really want to know is, what were the big wheels used for?

[from scottm, via we make money not art]


  1. Unfortunately, this photo is a hoax.

    I’m enjoying your blog.


  2. Oops. I stand corrected.

    I suppose the fact that it’s a hoax adds yet another layer to its cautionary quality.

    (Or that’s my attempt at a save, anyway.)

  3. I was fooled as well; hung a printout on my office door. Some days later I found out about it being a hoax and took it down.

    The photoshopped picture seems to have generated quite a bit of interest in the blogosphere. It must conform to our impression of how we think the 1950’s envisioned future computer technologies. It is a kind of counterfactual history of the future, retro-techno-utopianism.

    I guess the RAND connection is significant.

  4. I think that rapid revolution of those wheels must generate the activation energy to split infinitives in hoax captions.

    Or maybe I’m studying too hard.

  5. Victoria, I think you are studying too hard. Go for a walk or something.

  6. The big wheel? Why, it is the mouse, obviously!

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