Sunday, May 20, 2012

Failed Predictions

"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now; All that remains is more and more precise measurement." - Lord Kelvin, 1900.
"I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea." - HG Wells, 1901.
"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty--a fad." - The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.
"The invention of aircraft will make war impossible in the future." - George Gissing, 1903.
Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." - Marechal Ferdinand Foch, 1904.
"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote." - Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905.
"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, Jan. 2 edition, 1909.
"The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous." - Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration, 1916.
"The cinema is little more than a fad. It's canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage." - Charlie Chaplin, 1916.
"You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees." - Kaiser Wilhelm, 1914.
"Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard."- Tris Speaker, talking about Babe Ruth, 1919.
"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.
"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." - Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923.
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk? The music--that's the big plus about this." - H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." - Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
"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.
"By the year 1982 the graduated income tax will have practically abolished major differences in wealth." - Irwin Edman, professor of philosophy Columbia University, 1932.
"Sure-fire rubbish." - Lawrence Gilman, reviewing Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin in theNew York Herald Tribune, 1935.
"A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere." - The New York Times, 1936.
"Democracy will be dead by 1950." - John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936.
"This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time." - Neville Chamberlain, 1938 (after giving up Czechoslovakia to Hitler).
"TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't time for it." - unknown, from The New York Times, 1939.
"Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous." Winston Churchill, 1939.
"No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping." - U.S. Secretary of Navy, December 4, 1941.
"The Americans are good about making fancy cars and refrigerators, but that doesn't mean they are any good at making aircraft. They are bluffing. They are excellent at bluffing." - Hermann Göring, 1942.
"The (atom) bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." - Admiral William Leahy, Manhattan Project, 1943.
You better get secretarial work or get married." - Emmeline Snively, advising Marilyn Monroe in 1944.
"Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan." - Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948.
"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." -Popular Mechanics, 1949.
"Just so-so in center field." - New York Daily News, after the premiere of Willie Mays, 1951.
"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one." - W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.
"It will be gone by June." - Variety, passing judgement on rock 'n roll in 1955.
"A short-lived satirical pulp." - TIME, writing off Mad magazine in 1956.
"Space travel is utter bilge." - Richard Van Der Riet Woolley, Astronomer Royal, 1956.
"I have travelled 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.
"Space travel is bunk." - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, 1957 (two weeks prior to Sputnik orbiting the Earth).
"We will bury you." - Nikita Khrushchev, 1958 (predicting Soviet communism will triumph over US-style capitalism).
"The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most." - IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.
"In all likelihood world inflation is over." - International Monetary Fund CEO, 1959.
"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, in 1961.
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." - Decca Recording Co., rejecting The Beatles, 1962.
"Reagan doesn't have that presidential look." - United Artists executive, rejecting Reagan as lead in 1964 film The Best Man.
"Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds." - TIME, 1966.
"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 a college assignment by Fred Smith proposing a reliable overnight delivery service, in 1966 (Smith later founded FedEx).
"But it good for?" - Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968 (commenting on the microchip).
"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.
"By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half ... " - Life magazine, 1970.
" ... civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind," George Wald, Harvard University, 1970
"(The world will be) 11 degrees colder in the year 2000." - Kenneth Watt, 1970.
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olson, president, chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corp, 1977.
"The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years." - Paul Ralph Ehrlich, 1970.
"It will be years--not in my time--before a woman will become Prime Minister." - Margaret Thatcher, 1974 (sometimes dated 1969).
"People won t want to play these electronic games for more than a week, not once we start selling pinball machines for the home," - Gus Bally, Arcade Inc., 1979.
"That virus [HIV] is a pussycat." - Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, 1988.
"For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few ... On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper." - Erik Sandberg-Diment, The New York Times, 1985.
"Read my lips: No new taxes." - George Bush, 1988.
"Left-handed incumbents have never been look for a one-term Clinton Presidency." - TIME, 1992.
"I will believe in the 500-channel world only when I see it." - Sumner Redstone, Chairman, Viacom and CBS, 1994.
"The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works" - Clifford Stoll, 1995.
"You'll never make any money out of children's books" - Advice to JK Rowling from Barry Cunningham, editor at Bloomsbury Books, 1996.
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." - Dick Cheney August 26, 2002.
"[The Joint Intelligence Committee] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability." - Tony Blair, 2002.
"Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput." - Sir Alan Sugar, 2005.
"If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she's going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I'll predict that right now." - William Kristol, Fox News, Dec. 17, 2006.

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