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September 12, 2004

THIS ARGUMENT by Edward Mendelson regarding typography and the IBM Selectric Composer would be more impressive if the images were bigger. As it is, they're barely legible, making comparison difficult.

Of course, if they were bigger, you'd probably see something like this.

UPDATE: The sad thing is that this forgery by John Dvorak is more plausible than the CBS documents.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Paul Boutin is unimpressed with this effort, and says it's easy to tell the difference -- look at the straight vs. curly quotes.

And Charles Johnson says it's not even close. "Calling this a match is completely ridiculous. A person writing for PC Magazine really ought to know better than to try to pull off such an obvious flimflam."

MORE: More here:

The probability that any technology in existence in 1972 would be capable of producing a document that is nearly pixel-compatible with Microsoft’s Times New Roman font and the formatting of Microsoft Word, and that such technology was in casual use at the Texas Air National Guard, is so vanishingly small as to be indistinguishable from zero.

If someone had come forward presenting a “lost” painting by Leonardo da Vinci, which used acrylic paints including Cadmium Yellow and Titanium White, art experts would roll of the floor laughing at the clumsiness of the forgery. . . . Yet somehow a document which could not be created by any of the common office technology of 1972 is touted as “authentic”.

(Via Beldar). And -- unlike the Mendelson PC Mag piece -- he's got enlargements. As Jim Treacher says, "I know what I can see with my own freaking eyes."

Which, interestingly, is pretty much what art historian David Nishimura says:

This is, of course, a classic red flag for art historians on the lookout for fakes: not just the anachronistic detail, but that more fundamental anachronism arising from the forger's inability to recognize (and suppress) the impress of his own time. And when I read attempts to explain how the memos could be genuine, they sound just like a tenaciously deluded owner of a painting, purportedly the work of some great old master, who points to one feature after another that can be paralleled in the master's oeuvre, while failing to see how they add up to a whole that is entirely modern in conception.

Indeed.