The prediction business is always like walking a tightrope over a waterfall. You're a lot more likely to fall off than make it to the other side. Here are a few of the most egregious forward-looking flubs of the past 112 years, courtesy of Info World:
- "Everything that can be invented, has been invented." - Charles Duell, Commissioner of the US Patent Office, 1899
- "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943
- "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, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946
- "Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within ten years." - Alex Lewyt, president of Lewyt vacuum company, 1955
- "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977
- "Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet's continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." - Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995
- "Apple is already dead." - Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, 1997
- "Two years from now, spam will be solved." - Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, 2004
- "The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a mouse. There is no evidence that people want to use these things." - John Dvorak, noted tech writer and columnist, February 1984.
The interesting thing about these predictions is who made them, as not many of them are lightweights. Let this be a lesson on being careful about making predictions. They sometimes come back to haunt you.
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