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Yet Another Ten Failed Technology (or Science) Predictions

by Guy McCardle

July 24, 2011

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Donate At the risk of boring our readers with more of the same, I offer to you yet another ten failed technology predictions. It seems you all enjoy reading this kind of thing as much as I enjoy writing it. Sometimes it just feels good to have a private chuckle at the shortsightedness of another.

1. While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming. " Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer, 1926.

2. ‘The abdomen, the chest and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.' " Sir John Eric Ericson, Surgeon to Queen Victoria, 1873

3. “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.

4. “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” " Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

5. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” " Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

6. “Within the next few decades, autos will have folding wings that can be spread when on a straight stretch of road so that the machine can take to the air.” " Eddie Rickenbacker, ‘Popular Science,’ July 1924 Wait, not so fast! Check out Brian's piece Flying Car o' the Day to learn more about Burt Rutan's final professional design.

7. “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” " Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

8. Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires, and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value. " Editorial in the Boston Post, 1865

9. “That virus is a pussycat.” " Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988

10. “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.” -" Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955.

Bonus non-technology related prediction: "I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone." " Darwin (writing in Origin of Species), 1859

by Guy McCardle

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