Why share 21 Terrible Technology Predictions from yesteryear? We need to remind ourselves how wrong the ‘experts’ can be, and that exponential technologies can grow to affect billions of people’s lives positively.
There’s no doubt that we live in incredible times with so many technologies accelerating. The possibilities of human potential are endless. where there have been new innovations there have been doubters. and, in many cases the doubters have been wrong. Today many people throw shade onto electric vehicles and the end of oil, cryptocurrencies and the mass disruption of banking systems, virtual and augmented reality, the death of mobile, and so much more.
1876: “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” — William Orton, President of Western Union.
1876: “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.
1889: “Fooling around with alternating current (AC) is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison.
1903: “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.
1921: “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” — Associates of David Sarnoffresponding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio.
1926: “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.” — Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio” and a pioneer in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures. He had over 180 patents.
1932: “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.
1936: “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times.
1946: “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, film producer, co-founder of 20th Century Fox.
1949: “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 one and a half tons.” — Popular Mechanics.
1957: “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.” — Editor of Prentice Hall business books.
1959: “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most.” IBM told the eventual founders of Xerox.
1961: “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.A.M. Craven, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner.
1977: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” — Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp.
1981: “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.
1981: “Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.” — Marty Cooper, inventor.
1989: “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.” — Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft.
1992: “The idea of a personal communicator in every pocket is a “pipe dream driven by greed.” — Andy Grove, then CEO of Intel.
1995: “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, inventor of Ethernet.
2003: “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, in Rolling Stone
2007: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” — Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.
I’m going to add in some bonus predictions too that are proving to become very wrong.
2016: “We would not follow to develop a fully electric car.” Michael Leiters, Ferrari’s technology head (Ferrari are now developing a full-electric car)
2017: “I think that the bitcoin can eventually go to the millions of dollars when it becomes a means of payment,” Van der Chijs, Dutch millionaire and crypto entrepreneur (highly unlikely as the crypto market is currently normalizing)
2017: “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence. It’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output. Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem.” Elon Musk (would you bet against him?)
Nikolas is a world-leading Futurist Speaker that drives leaders to take action in creating a better world for humanity. He promotes exponential thinking along with a critical, honest, and optimistic view that empowers you with knowledge to plan for today, tomorrow, and for the future.