“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 , U.S. 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 urging for investment in 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 Corporation)

“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

Photo: Garry Armstrong

“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” notes

“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, U.S. 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***ing 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 Corporation, 1977

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

26 thoughts on “GOOD TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND”

    1. And a lot of these companies went bust because of these decisions. Especially DEC who got into desktops and laptops far too late and went down in flames. They were a good company, but they couldn’t see the future. A lot of early computer companies went bust because they didn’t get it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A crusty old curmudgeon cameraman to Garry Armstrong in 1970, “Videotape and ENG is crap — a passing fad. It’ll never replace film on television. It’s CRAP, Garry”.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really a revised version of an old post. I looked up all the quotes to make sure they were accurate.

      I miss the Blackberry. You couldn’t take pictures with it, but it had excellent sound and a little keypad. It was great for making phone calls (wow, what a concept!) — and it really worked very well as a calendar. Those were the two things I needed: a functional calendar that linked to my desktop and a phone that worked. It was the last cell phone I liked.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Why would anyone want to use a smartphone to make phone calls? That’s what texting is for. I mean we spent over a hundred years to perfect technologyy to transmit voice signals all over the world so that everybody could use it to transmit simple text messages!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In the on-going clean out of my office, I found a bag of old Blackberry covers. I invoked a moment of silence.
        I loved those Blackberrys.


    1. These things are always so amusing. I’m predicting one of these days, we will get bored with our little cell phones and mini tablets and everyone will decide it’s time to go outside and enjoy the world. Any day now!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I worked at DEC during its final years on earth, then worked at Intel which took over their facility. DEC never really “got” the “home computer” thing. They were sure that mainframes would be coming back — any day. Even after EVERYBODY ELSE has figured it out, they were still refusing to believe the obvious.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The certainty of the ‘expert’. Predicting the unknown on the basis of the known is not a completely reliable idea as the above examples clearly demonstrate! Thanks for the reminder, Spike.



  2. And yet they (the inventors, the far seers) ALL soldiered on….Too bad none of that spirit exists today. Embeecee – Foreteller of Sarcastic One Liners..


  3. I just read this and instantly remembered your post!
    “Amtrak’s president told CNBC on Tuesday he does not see the futuristic hyperloop — conceived by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk — overtaking traditional rail travel and transport anytime soon.

    Asked to assess the practicality of high-speed hyperloop pods and Musk’s The Boring Company, Richard Anderson was skeptical. “I don’t think it’s realistic right now.”

    “I’m glad there are people like that [who] dream about that. But I’m sort of focused on bridges and tunnels that are 100 years old that need some real infrastructure investment,” said Anderson, who was CEO of Delta Air Lines.”

    I believe now would be a VERY good time to invest in Mr Musk’s Hyperloop rail alternative given Mr Anderson’s ‘track’ record! 😉



    1. I think they should fix the bridges and tunnels first because otherwise, that superfast railroad will fall into the rivers. The bridges and tunnels are crumbling. Sometimes, you have to fix things first … THEN move ahead. This is one of those things about which we all agree: our roads are in bad shape. Our rails are broken. The bridges and tunnels are scary dangerously bad, both the little ones and the much bigger ones. You can’t put off repair indefinitely and the faster trains won’t do much good if they plunge into rivers.


      1. Ahhhh – the hyperloop is a specially designed and constructed air tunnel built by Musk’s sister company ‘the Boring Company’ – it does not use existing roads or bridges or tracks! It replaces rather than rebuilds existing (crumbling) infrastructure! 🙂



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