2Spare.com (2 Much Time 2 Spare) have a list of the top 87 bad predictions in all sectors. The list has 590 votes. Let me extract out the ones of interest in computing and such – and I’ll add a few at the bottom of recent ones:

«640k is enough for everyone.» William F. Gates III

«I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.» IBM Chairman Thomas Watson, 1943.

«Everything that can be invented has been invented.» Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, 1899.

«This antitrust thing will blow over.» Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.

«Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop – because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.» TIME, 1966, in one sentence writing off e-commerce long before anyone had ever heard of it.

«I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here… We have spent millions in that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped.» Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator, on the Smithsonian Institute, 1901.

here here! oops, sorry, I’ll get back to listing now.

«The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain.» Martin Luther, German Reformation leader, Table Talk, 1530s(?).

some just get wronger and wronger. 😛 -soz back to list:

«Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.» Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

«There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.» Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.

«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?» IBM executive Robert Lloyd, speaking in 1968 microprocessor, the heart of today’s computers.

«Radio has no future.» Lord Kelvin, Scottish mathematician and physicist, former president of the Royal Society, 1897

«The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?» Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921.

«There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.» T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).

Well, we are still waiting for better services – broadband, rural etc – here in Australia. So that one might be right. :p

«Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?» H. M. Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers, 1927.

«The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.” -– Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916.

and sex, Charlie, how could you forget sex?

«This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.» A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

«The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.» Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

«While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.» Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926.

«Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.» Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962

«[By 1985], machines will be capable of doing any work Man can do.» Herbert A. Simon, of Carnegie Mellon University – considered to be a founder of the field of artificial intelligence – speaking in 1965.

I don’t have a problem with the last one. Mainly because most futurists may get the facts right but they sux at timing. But also because it segues nicely into the recent Bill Gates’ statement :p about PC’s still being needed. In spite of convergent devices I mean. The exact statement from Wall Street Journal is:

The reality is a little different. The truth is that the model which has fueled the incredible popularity and affordability of the PC will continue to drive innovation and choice in the burgeoning area of personal devices such as cell phones, digital players and mobile PCs. As such, the PC is becoming more important and popular as a key enabler for these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world, from Indianapolis to Istanbul. If anything, it is, to paraphrase Churchill, perhaps the end of the beginning: the end of the first phase in the life of a young and evolving technology that is just now becoming as ubiquitous as the TV or the automobile.'”

He’s probably mixing up personal computing with PCs.

Anyway, my vote for “how could I have been so wrong and next time I”ll keep my mouth shut” is *drum rolls* Dr Jeffrey Cole of World Internet Project and The Digital Center. (Yes, I know I wrote on this before). (I don’t exactly trust Aussie media to quote him properly, so don’t be surprised if this was taken out of context)

“The audience for blogs is infinitely small,” says Cole. (Director World Internet Project, 2006)

I don’t have the exact quote for below, but the SMH article quoted him as saying:

…interest in blogging is grossly overrated – except when mainstream journalists find something interesting and shift it into the broader public debate.

I’m not a fan of blogs in their current form but the implication from the article was that teens grow up and don’t want to create content any more as adults. That as the teens become adults they move into passive mode (albeit time shifting and form shifting their entertainment) and may become part of a hyperdistribution channel but the urge to create gets lost. Nope. That view is just plain wrong… why on earth would today’s teens who send around fotos of their newest boyfriend/girlfriend/car/skateboard not grow up to send around fotos of their wedding/children/grandchildren? My parents generation rarely wrote letters of complaint to restaurants or tradesmen. I am fairly comfortable with sending off a quick email to a company if I feel wronged. The next generation won’t think twice about shooting off a communique in an instant form when peeved. Its all content and its all being created instantly and instantly accessible globally. Almost as low energy requirements as being passive yet still creating actively. If you know what I mean. Heh.

Technorati Tags , , ,