Keep an Open Mind

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”

— Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.” 

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.”

Admiral William Leahy , US Atomic Bomb Project 

“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 no 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 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. 

“640K 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,”

— 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.)

“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 Wind.”

“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.”

— 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.

“Who would want a F*****G Computer to sit on their Desk?”

— President of Warner-Swayze, 1977

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

— Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977



Categories: Computers, History, Humor, Media, Quotation, Software, Technology, Uncategorized, Words

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. How long did it take you to find all of these? This one is hilarious: “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

    Of course, there are several that struck the funny bone!

    Like

    • You can look these up by subject basically by googling them. “famous computer quotes,” for example. Some I just knew and had to double check. They are famously stupid, that one being one of them.

      At least they are famously stupid in the computer world 🙂

      Like

  2. Great work finding all of those!
    One wonders why some of those people said what they did. I wonder if we have more open minds now? Certainly in sci-fi and so on we postulate things which are currently impossible – it’s a while since I heard someone completely dismiss something out of hand (or maybe it’s just the “experts” who have such closed minds?).
    I think my favourite, in a very dark way, is the guy who said the atomic bomb would never go off. I have a picture in my head of him kicking it and saying “Look, look, see, it’s rubbish” shortly before being atomised.

    Like

    • Closer to home, DEC’s refusal to get into the personal computer market when it was obvious to anyone with eyes to see that this was where computing was going — doomed them. They owned a pretty good chunk of the mainframe market for a long time. They employed about 30,000 people in this state. They are GONE. As are several other previously big computer companies.That’s why Massachusetts’ economy is so bad … worse than most other parts of the country. Stupidity ruled.

      Like

  3. Sounds like some Newsroom suits I do not fondly remember.

    Like

    • Some of these quotes are well known. Certainly DEC’s decision to not enter the desktop market was fatal. Is Decca even still around? After turning down the Beatles, well … hard to justify that one. As for Gary Cooper, he would have been a terrible Rhett Butler, so he may have been wrong about the movie, but he was right about his own abilities as an actor.

      Like

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