Making predictions is a notoriously risky business, whether you're doing it as an endtime public service or just shooting your lips off.
But did these notable illuminaries always have to talk with both feet in their mouth? It seems that one of the biggest innovation blockers comes in the form of conventional wisdom.
I mean even I can do better than that, but what I see a hundred years from now is just a bunch of low-tech, skin-cancerous ethnically mixed people scavenging for canned goods in the ruined wastelands of the post-post-post-industrial society.
And who wants to hear that?
“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
• "640K ought to be enough for anybody." ~Bill Gates, 1981
• "Airplanes are interesting toys, but they have no military value." ~Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1911.
• "But what... is it good for?" ~Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
• "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." ~Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
• "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.
• "Everything that can be invented has been invented." ~Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
“Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.”~Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889
• "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." ~Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
• "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
• "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." ~Thomas J. Watson, Chairman of the Board of IBM, 1943
• "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.
• "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." ~Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, October 16, 1929.
• "The abdomen, the chest, & the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". ~Sir John Eric Ericksen, appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.
• "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.
• "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." ~Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
• "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.
• "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." ~Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
• "Whatever happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping." ~Frank Knox, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, on December 4, 1941
• "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" ~H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
• "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market." ~Business Week, 1958
• “The ordinary ‘horseless carriage’ is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.” ~Literary Digest, 1899
• “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” ~Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883
• An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate.
“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” ~Dr. Dionysys Larder, professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, 1793-1859
• An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm's newly built flagship, the Titanic, launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable.
• In 1939 The New York Times said the problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn't have time for it.
• King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution.
• "Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility - a development which we should waste little time dreaming about." Lee de Forest, 1926, inventor of the cathode ray tube.
•"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". ~Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
• "Prague doesn't have room for another English language magazine" ~Normandy Madden, April 1996