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Famous Predictions

"I expect to win it. Sit back, put your feet up in front of the TV, relax and enjoy it. Let me do the worrying - that's what I get paid for."

- England manager Graham Taylor before the 1992 European championships. England didn't win a game.

"I have always found strangers sexy."

- Hugh Grant, six months before he was arrested with stranger Divine Brown.

"It will be years - not in my time - before a woman will become Prime Minister."

- Margaret Thatcher, 1974

"I would not wish to be Prime Minister, dear."

- Margaret Thatcher in 1973.

"That rainbow song's no good. Take it out."

- MGM memo after first showing of "The Wizard Of Oz."

"You'd better learn secretarial skills or else get married."

- Modelling agency, rejecting Marilyn Monroe in 1944.

"Radio has no future."
"X-rays are clearly a hoax."
"The aeroplane is scientifically impossible."

- Royal Society president William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, 1897-9.

"No imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urging investment in the radio in the 1920's.

"You ought to go back to driving a truck."

- Concert manager, firing Elvis Presley in 1954.

"Forget it. No Civil War picture ever made a nickel."

- MGM executive, advising against investing in Gone With The Wind.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."

- Gary Cooper, after turning down the lead role in Gone With The Wind.

"Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little."

- A film company's verdict on Fred Astaire's 1928 screen test.

"Very interesting, Whittle, my boy, but it will never work."

- Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Cambridge, shown Frank Whittle's plan for the jet engine.

"There will be one million cases of AIDS in Britain by 1991."

- World Health Organisation in a 1989 report. It over-estimated by 992,301 cases.

"We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out."

- Decca executive, 1962, after turning down the Beatles.

"The Beatles? They're on the wane."

- The Duke of Edinburgh in Canada, 1965. They went on to produce a string of No 1s.

"The atom bomb will never go off - and I speak as an expert in explosives."

- U.S. Admiral William Leahy in 1945.

"All saved from Titanic after collision."

- New York Evening Sun, April 15 1912.

"Brain work will cause women to go bald."

- Berlin professor, 1914.

"Television won't matter in your lifetime or mine."

- Radio Times editor Rex Lambert, 1936.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

"And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam."

- Newsweek magazine, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s.

"Stocks have reached a permanently high plateau."

- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

"There will never be a bigger plane built."

- A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that carried ten people.

"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

"With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the US market."

- Business Week, August 2, 1968

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 19,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons."

- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949.

"I think there's a world market for about five computers."

- Thomas J. Watson, chairman of the board of IBM.

"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 of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977

"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.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication."

- Western Union memo, 1876

"Who wants to hear actors talk?"

- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"Market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."

- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of Mrs. Fields' Cookies

"Airplanes are interesting toys, but they are of no military value whatsoever."

- Marechal Ferdinand Fock, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre

"No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping."

- U.S. Secretary of Navy, December 4, 1941

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility."

- American Radio pioneer Lee DeForest, 1926

"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.)

"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.

"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.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."

- Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"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.

"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.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."

- Bill Gates, 1981.

"What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?"

- The Quarterly Review, England, March 1825

"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it. [...] Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."

- Dr. Alfred Velpeau, French surgeon, 1839

"Men might as well project a voyage to the Moon as attempt to employ steam navigation against the stormy North Atlantic Ocean."

- Dr. Dionysus Lardner, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College, London, 1838

(Editor's note: For further reading on the subject, I recommend "The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation", by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky.)

 


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Thomas Bätzler, Thomas@Baetzler.de
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