by Curt Kovener
We have all made predictions that not only didn’t come true. Maybe they were 180° from what actually happened. Here are some of the more “Durn, I wish I hadn’t said that” looks into the future back then.
“Computers in the future may weigh more than 1.5 tons.”
— Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
“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 what … is 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, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
— Western Union memo, 1876.
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?
— David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
—A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express.
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
—H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.”
—Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”
“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.”
— Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
—Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
“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 founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
—Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
— Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction”.
— Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
— Bill Gates, 1981
Remember the theme of these quotes as we enter yet another election cycle.