Poor Predictions about Technology
"This '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.
"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.
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
"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." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
"But what ... is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
While widely reported, the following quote is actually a fig newton of someone's imagination:
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
--Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
Actually, Duell's 1899 report included the following: "May not our inventors hopefully look to the Fifty-sixth Congress for aid and effectual encouragement in improving the American patent system?"
Duell also quoted President McKinley's annual message that year, saying, "Our future progress and prosperity depend upon our ability to equal, if not surpass, other nations in the enlargement and advance of science, industry and commerce. To invention we must turn as one of the most powerful aids to the accomplishment of such a result."
Hardly the words of a man 'resigned' to leaving office because there is no work left for a bureaucrat!
Source: Sass, Samuel. (1989). A patently false patent myth. Skeptical Inquirer, 13, 310-312.
Another quote, this one attributed to one William Gates, is widely reported but undocumented:
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981