Expert Predictions

These are adapted from Guy Kawasaki’s book, Rules for Revolutionaries (the capitalist manifesto for creating and marketing new products and services).

“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 practical value” (Editorial in the Boston Post, 1865)

“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)

“While theoretically and technically, television may be feasible, commercially and financially, I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming”. (Lee DeForest, quoted in New York Times, 1926)

“[Man will  never reach the moon] regardless of all future scientific advances”. (Lee DeForest, inventor of the audion tube, New York Times February 25, 1957)

“I think there is a world market for about five computers”. (remark attributed to Thomas Watson, chairman of the board of IBM, 1943)

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home”. (Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment Corporation, at the convention of the World Future Society, 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)

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” (Sir John Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1837)

“That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year, no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.” (Scientific American, January 2, 1909)

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” (Lord Kelvin, British mathematician, physicist and president of the British Royal Society, circa 1895)

“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 radio in the 1920s)

“It’s too far to commute. And how can you make a business out of a search engine?” (Guy Kawasaki, when asked if he would be interested in interviewing for the CEO position at Yahoo! when the company was starting)