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Another Ten Failed Technology Predictions

by Guy McCardle

July 21, 2011

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Donate History has given us numerous examples of failed technology predictions by those who should have known better...many more than could be contained in one list of ten examples. Therefore, I present to you another ten failed technology predictions. Read it and think.

1. "We will never make a 32 bit operating system." — Bill Gates

2. "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 DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926

3. "This is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives." — Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy during World War II, advising President Truman on the atomic bomb, 1945. Note: Leahy admitted the error five years later in his memoirs.

4. "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." — A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

5. "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, British novelist, in 1901.

6. "Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever." — Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889 (Edison often ridiculed the arguments of competitor George Westinghouse for AC power).

7. "Home Taping Is Killing Music" — A 1980s campaign by the BPI, claiming that people recording music off the radio onto cassette would destroy the music industry.

8. "When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it." — Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson

9. "Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed." — Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830(?).

10. "Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." — Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.

by Guy McCardle

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