There is an old saying that goes something like, “Predicting the future is easy … getting it right is the hard part.” Even the brightest scientists, engineers, and industrialists are no exception.
Below are some of the biggest muffed tech predictions of all time, that didn’t quite turn out as expected, and spoken by people you’d expect would know better.
Top 33 Worst Tech Predictions of All Time:
- “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
- “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
- “But what…is it good for?” — Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the “Microchip.”
- “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” — Attributed to Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899, but known to be an urban legend.
- “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.
- “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.
- “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” — Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
- “Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” — William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.
- “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.” — Lee DeForest, inventor.
- “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.
- “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 internal memo, 1876.
- “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, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946
- “Apple is already dead.” – Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, 1997
- “Two years from now, spam will be solved.” – Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, at the World Economic Forum, 2004
- “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” — William Preece, British Post Office.
- “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” — President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company.
- “Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.” — Alex Lewyt, President of the Lewyt Vacuum Cleaner Company.
- “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop.” — Time Magazine.
- “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com.
- “Everyone’s always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone. My answer is, ‘Probably never.'” — David Pogue, The New York Times.
- “Apple [is] a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future.”—TIME, February 5, 1996
- “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.
- “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” — Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.
- “For all of his success, all Steve Jobs had really accomplished was a temporary pause in Apple’s long-term decline.”—Infinite Loop, 1996, by Michael S. Malone
- “I’d shut [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders.”—Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, Inc., 1997
- “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times.
- “Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple as we know it is cooked. It’s so classic. It’s so sad.”—A Forrester Research analyst, January 25, 1996 (quoted in The New York Times)
- “Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.” — Marty Cooper, inventor.
- “Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” — Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General.
- “Fooling around with alternating current (AC) is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison, 1889
- “The idea of a personal communicator in every pocket is a “pipe dream driven by greed.” — Andy Grove, then CEO of Intel.
- “No one will need more than 637KB of memory for a personal computer. 640KB ought to be enough for anybody.” — Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft.
- “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most.” IBM told the eventual founders of Xerox, 1959.
Thanks for reading.
So, what’s your favorite tech predictions ?