I did not necessarily vet any of these, and some may simply be "urban legends," but some I know to have actually been uttered by someone who supposedly knew what he was talking about. Predictions are always chancy. These were downright dumb, with the benefit of hindsight (a very strong benefit, by the way!):
"Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances."
-- Dr. Lee DeForest, "Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television." 1967
"The (atomic) bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives."
-- Admiral William Leahy , US Atomic Bomb Project 1943
"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
-- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923
"Computers in the future may weigh 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 his 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.
"640K (computer memory) ought to be enough for anybody."
-- Bill Gates, 1981
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.
"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible,"
-- Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper,"
--Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make,"
-- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,"
-- Decca Recording Co. Rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,"
-- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
"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.
"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy,"
-- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
-- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University , 1929.
"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value,"
-- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre , France .
"Everything that can be invented has been invented,"
-- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.
"The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required."
-- Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University
"I don't know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by itself."
-- the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.
"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."
-- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse,1872
"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, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.
Predictions about rapidly changing technology seem especially dangerous. If it is true that technological knowledge doubles every five years, the chances of ending up with egg on one's face is pretty good. I think I'll just avoid predictions and spend my time and what few brain cells I have left trying to understand what is happening right damn now!
Don Keith N4KC