This image and the accompanying text have been displayed in the main conference room of our Information Systems Division for many years. It purports to be taken from a 1954 Popular Mechanics. The text reads :
"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."
The awkward writing and use of the term "home computer" in what is supposedly 1954 should be a clue that this is a hoax, as is the fact that the first Fortran compiler was released in April 1957. However, the final nail in the coffin came earlier this week when we were meeting with Jim Laricks, an account representative from a company called datadomain. Jim noticed the picture on the conference room wall. Being former Navy, he said "That's not a home computer. That's a Westinghouse 51-W US Naval Nuclear Submarine Reactor Control Panel. I know - I spent seven years in front of one".
So, a quick googling of "RAND home computer" leads to snopes.com and the real story behind this image. It was created for a FARK photoshopping contest using the image below, which is from a Smithsonian exhibition called "Fast Attacks and Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War".