No, it came from an event in 2003. On August 27 2003, Mars was closer to Earth than it had been in a very long time. It was a very close perihelic opposition. Still, it was still just a point of light in the sky. There was an email that circulated about the event, and it contained the following (very true) statement with an unfortunate line break like so:
"Mars will appear as large as the moon
in a telescope at 75 power"
As you can see, if you delete the second line, you get the wonderful hoax you do now. The email didn't mention the year, as it was pretty obvious at the time. The e-mail got recirculated in slightly modified form in 2004, and it balooned from there. Now there are completely new forms of this email getting circulating around that are based on the erroneous edited version from a few years ago. It will probably go around every year around August for awhile, and people will believe it and forward it on.
I guess some people just get a kick out of getting people to believe complete nonsense.