Monday, April 16, 2012

Dumb Tech Predictions in History

Here are some more of the dumbest tech predictions from past years, decades, and centuries. Inspired and based on an article previously written by Cody Willard entitled "Some of the Dumbest Tech Predictions of All Times".
  • "The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed."  -  Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1865
  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • “Do not bother to sell your gas shares. The electric light has no future.” —Professor John Henry Pepper, Victorian-era celebrity scientist, sometime in the 1870s
  • "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -  Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878
  • “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” - Lord Kelvin, circa 1895, British mathematician and physicist
  • "That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."  -  Scientific American, 1909
  • “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” — Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre
  • “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” — Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921
  • “The problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it.” − The New York Times, 1939
  • “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night,” Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946.
  • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943.
  • “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most,” IBM executives to the eventual founders of Xerox, 1959.
  • “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18 000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers of the future may have only 1 000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1½ tons.” — Popular Mechanics, March 1949
  • "Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition."  -  Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962
  • "There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States." -  T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, 1961 
  • “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” — Jack Valenti, MPAA President, testimony to the House of Representatives, 1982
  • "I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." — Michael Dell's comments about Apple back in October 1997
  • “There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.” - Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) in 1977
  • “No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer. 640K ought to be enough for anybody.” - Bill Gates, CEO and founder of Microsoft, back in 1981
  • "The Internet is just a fad."  -  My boss, the CIO at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) back in 1999
  • “The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt. I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model and it might not be successful.” Steve Jobs — Rolling Stone, Dec. 3, 2003
  • “Let’s look at the facts. Nobody uses those things…” - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when asked about Google Android and the future of apps
Have you got some other dumb tech predictions you've run accross to add to this list? Share them with us.

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