Thursday, January 12, 2017


Not all predictions (even by experts) come to pass:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

"But it good for?"
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

“There’s just not that many videos I want to watch.”  
Steve Chen, CTO and co-founder of YouTube expressing concerns about his company’s long term viability.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"
Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

And it's not just computers that experts made incorrect predictions about.
Here are some others:

On trains, flying & space travel:

Rail travel at high speeds would not be possible because passengers, unable to breath, would die of asphyxia."
Dr. Dionysys Larder, science writer and academic, in 1828.

Hence, if it requires, say, a thousand years to fit for easy flight a bird which started with rudimentary wings, or ten thousand for one which started with no wings at all and had to sprout them ab initio, it might be assumed that the flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years--provided, of course, we can meanwhile eliminate such little drawbacks and embarrassments as the existing relation between weight and strength in inorganic materials.
The New York Times, Oct 9, 1903

"There will never be a bigger plane built."
A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth—all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.
Lee De Forest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1957 “De Forest Says Space Travel Is Impossible”, Lewiston Morning Tribune via Associated Press, February 25, 1957.

On science & medicine:

"I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone."
Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, 1869.

"That Professor Goddard with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be absurd. Of course, he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work. 
The remark was retracted in the July 17, 1969 issue.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."
Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." 
Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." 
Albert Einstein, 1932.

"There is no likelihood man will ever tap the power of the atom."
Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923.

"We can close the book on infectious diseases."
Surgeon General of the United States William H. Stewart, speaking to the U.S. Congress in 1969.

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives."
Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."
Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."
Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

 “Fooling around with alternating current (AC) is just a waste of time.  
Nobody will use it, ever.” 
Thomas Edison, 1889

On Japanese automobiles:

"With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market."
Business Week, August 2, 1968.

On the Beatles:

“We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.”
A Decca Records executive to the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, following an audition in 1962.

On politics:

"It will be years--not in my time--before a woman becomes Prime Minister."
Margaret Thatcher, Oct. 26, 1969.

On the Grand Canyon:

"Ours has been the first (expedition), & doubtless will be the last, 
to visit this profitless locality."
Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.
(Predictions taken from,, &


That's enough todaying for today; I'm done----fishducky