"I think there is a world market for about five computers."
Thomas J.Watson (1945)
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
"It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to
achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such
statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in 5 years."
John Von Neumann (ca. 1949)
1954: "Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a "home computer" could look like in the year 2004. However the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve those problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use.
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
Ken Olsen, President, Chairman and founder of Digital, 1977.
"Unix is Snake Oil."
"I wouldn't put my company on the Internet."
Ken Olsen, Chairman Modular Computer Systems, Computerworld 1996.
"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing,
even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding
us? Or we' ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary,
we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to
Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't
got through college yet.'"
Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.
"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
Bill Gates, 1981
"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, responding to Karl V. Karstrom (a junior editor who recommended a manuscript about data processing), 1957
"But what ... is it good for?"
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and
reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against
which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily
in high schools."
1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.
"[Airplanes] are interesting toys but of no military value."
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, professor of strategy and commandant of Superieure de Guerre, 1911
"By 1980 all 'power' (electric, atomic, solar) is likely to be virtually costless."
Henry Luce, Founder of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines in 1956
"A few decades hence, energy may be free--just like the unmetered air."
John von Neuman, American Scientist in 1956
"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, 1932.
"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosive."
Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project
"There is no likehood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923
Biology and Medicine
"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."
Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872 (not verified in Cerf and Navasky).
"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."
Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, later appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1837.
"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
"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.
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
"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
Editorial in the Boston Post, 1865.
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899
"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The
literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.