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Top 30 Failed Technology Predictions

Throughout history man has been making predictions of the future. With the advent of technology, the predictions moved away from religious topics to scientific and technological. Unfortunately for the speakers, many of these failed predictions have been recorded for all future generations to laugh at. Here is a selection of the 30 best.

Predictions 1 – 10

Main Farnsworth

1. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.

2. “We will never make a 32 bit operating system.” — Bill Gates

3. “Lee DeForest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public … has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company …” — a U.S. District Attorney, prosecuting American inventor Lee DeForest for selling stock fraudulently through the mail for his Radio Telephone Company in 1913.

4. “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” — T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).

5. “To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth – all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.” — Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926

6. “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times, 1936.

7. “Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical (sic) and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.” – Simon Newcomb; The Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk 18 months later.

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

9. “There will never be a bigger plane built.” — A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people

10. “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.” -– Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955.

Predictions 11 – 20

3292 Train 1020

11. “This is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.” — Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy during World War II, advising President Truman on the atomic bomb, 1945.[6] Leahy admitted the error five years later in his memoirs

12. “The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.” — Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.

13. “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

14. “The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.” -– Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916

15. “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” — The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

16. “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” — Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

17. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” — A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

18. “The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.” — IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

19. “I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” — HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901.

20. “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” — Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

Predictions 21 – 30

Light

21. “The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous.” — Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration, 1916.

22. “How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.” — Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat, 1800s.

23. “Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889 (Edison often ridiculed the arguments of competitor George Westinghouse for AC power).

24. “Home Taping Is Killing Music” — A 1980s campaign by the BPI, claiming that people recording music off the radio onto cassette would destroy the music industry.

25. “Television won’t last. It’s a flash in the pan.” — Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948.

26. “[Television] won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

27. “When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.” – Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson

28. “Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads’ … As you may well know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.” — Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830(?).

29. “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” — Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.

30. “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” — Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921.

This article is licensed under the GFDL. It uses material from the Wikipedia article: Failed Predictions

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • I love it when someone says something is impossible. Nothing is given time.

  • Peggy

    Nicely done.more good info that i never knew about.

  • Peggy: thanks :) More to come today.

  • BryceWeaver

    wow this is a great list keep up the good work!

  • BryceWeaver: thanks :) I love these types of quotes.

  • And where’s my flying car!??

  • Crimanon: hehe – in a parallel universe I suspect :)

  • Mr. Metal

    Couldn’t #10 be technically correct, I mean we have nuclear power plants supplying electricity to vacuum cleaners? :)

  • Mr. Metal: good point but no – I won’t believe it is true until we get little nuclear boxes on them :)

  • It almost seems that everybody was using reverse psychology. Saying everything was imposible so that it would happen

  • Mitchell

    As Heinlein once said, the easiest way to make a fortune is find out what the experts say can’t be done, and then do it.

  • Mitchell: so true!

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  • dalandzadgad

    #28 is hilarious.

  • dalandzadgad: it it very funny – the horrible thing is that if the same thing were to happen today, railroads would be banned. Thank God people had more sense in those days.

  • x00x

    Highly entertaining and amusing. The one by Albert Einstein is amazing, quite shocking.

  • arbitterm

    This is actually comforting. It gives me hope that everything science today says is impossible could actually come to reality.

  • arbitterm: I want to do a list of top 10 things that people say can’t be done that will be done – such as teleporters and (obviously) super-luminal travel.

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  • x00x

    arbitterm: Wow. That’s a brilliantly insightful observation. I wouldn’t at all have agreed with you having dismissed them all as ignorant, unimaginative fools had the comment by Alfred Einstein otherwise not been included. Thanks.

  • x00x: I agree!

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  • rascal ding dong shitter

    great list! i come here everyday to see what’s new! keep up the awesome site!!!!

  • rascal ding dong shitter: Thanks :) Welcome to the site – nice nickname :)

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  • Vance Qualteri

    Note: These people are/were all Democrats.

  • One of Alvin Toffler’s missteps was the prediction that we would be wearing disposable paper clothing by now. (Future Schock)

  • Hm. I happen to agree with 21. What has war come to these days?

  • Super Fly

    xOOx: Who is Alfred Einstein?

  • x00x

    Super Fly: You don’t know?!!?!?? Shame on you!!
    He was Albert’s younger, smarter brother.
    LOL LOL LOL
    It’s not the first time I’ve referred to him as Alfred. Don’t know why.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I am forcing myself to write
    by hand one hundred times “Albert Einstein” so I get out of the habit.

  • David

    These are mostly quotes from people thinking that technology will fail. What about people who thought technology was going to be further advanced- a ‘true’ failed technology predictions list?

    For example:
    “By the year 2000 we will undoubtedly have a sizable operation on the Moon, we will have achieved a manned Mars landing, and it’s entirely possible we will have flown with men to the outer planets.”

    Wernher von Braun, 1969

  • x00x

    David; This doesn’t specifically list only technology predictions

    Top 87 Bad Predictions about the Future
    Published on 3/28/2006
    http://www.2spare.com/item_50221.aspx

  • The Dum Guy

    I want a nuclear powered vacuum cleaner. It might help me grow another arm.

  • Morgaine

    About #23, yes, it seems Mr. Edison spent years trying to displace Westinghouse and his alternating current…he used to electrocute cats and dogs in his own house to prove his experiments…
    He also electrocuted a “mad” elephant on 1903, first because for the caretakers it was the most “humane” way of killing her, and second, to “prove the dangers of alternating current at a common home”
    He also recorded a bit disturbing video (included in the link)..
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topsy_%28elephant%29

    (No need to say that both AC and DC are used everytime nowadays with no special danger)

    • VSer

      23. “Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889 (Edison often ridiculed the arguments of competitor George Westinghouse for AC power).

      First of he was talking to Nikola Tesla, who founded AC, no one recognizes him for any of his work, but please could you… he did after all invent the radio, and AC current as mentioned previously.

  • Morgaine: I read about that when I was doing the list on modern methods of execution- the more I read about Edison the less I like him.

  • Morgaine

    jfrater: Me too.. I know that the mentality of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries was completely different, but god! (This would be a cool difference to add to a “8 differences between the 19th Century and Now” list :P)… As my mother would say: “Why didn’t he try and put electrodes on his b***s?”

  • Morgaine: haha your mother was spot on :)

  • x00x

    The details surrounding Edison are much more sinister than you imagine. Electrocution was being introduced at the time as a painless, more humane method of capital punishment. Westinghouse’s approach was resulting in a high death rate for those doing repair work on the lines.

    Yet Westinghouse’s alternating current was gaining acceptance as the best approach forcing Edison to greater lengths in an effort to undermine alternating current in the public’s mind.

    Edison was called in as an expert witness in a state hearing regarding the efficacy of Westinghouse’s alternating current, testifying that it was much deadlier than his method and therefore more suitable as an execution tool. Edison testified to this effect despite his avowed revulsion, personal belief against capital punishment.

    Edison’s insidious strategy towards undermining the safety of alternating current was to make reference to those executed via this
    method as being Westinghoused.

    I kid you not!

    • VSer

      First off, if you say that electricity either DC or AC is not dangerous this is wrong, how many people have died from failing power cables…

      Also if you do not recall, both of those gentle men taunted Tesla about his "wild dreams". Also Westinghouse was greedy, and Tesla a little naive, shown when Tesla was creating his wireless free electricity generated by the earth…. In conclusion he came up with a lot of idea's that where shot down, I only can hope that this is not the case in todays society.

  • Fallenangel

    I must say I do love hearing how open mouthed these close minded people had been. Granted no one can see where we’ll be in 100 years, you shouldn’t discount what may be. I’ve heard most of these, but it’s still a great reminder to keep an open mind to what can happen next. :)(:

  • cottus

    Albert Einstein is properly famous for two great intellectual achievements. Outside of that, he was pretty much a dud. His essay “why Socialism” should be a wake – up call to all the bright young things out there who, at twenty – ish, believe they have all the answers. Google it, it’s a hoot. Note well that Einstein himself, when the chips were down, chose evil America, and not Stalin’s socialist paradise.

  • Steve

    “from religious topics to scientific and techological”

    what is a techological?

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  • Senor Shutter

    THE HOOVER SYNDROME!!!
    When your nuclear powered vacuum cleaner melts down!

  • Senor Shutter: haha I like it :)

  • mizzle

    24. “Home Taping Is Killing Music”
    record executives today are singing the same song about mp3 sharing…

  • mizzle: yeah – it is all about the bottom line – they don’t want to lose any money so they will try to squash any chance of them losing their monopoly.

  • Taking these lessons to heart, when my boss doesn’t like my latest (brilliant) idea, I should just laugh maniacally and walk out of the room.

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  • mskelly

    Some day, it will be impossible for people to make such poor predictions.

    Or is it: it is impossible that people will ever cease making such poor predictions.

    It’s impossible to know which is right…

  • Silverhill

    comment on #5: DeForest did not invent the vacuum tube per se; he invented a type of tube, the triode amplifier, which made effective radio transmission possible.

    comment on #20: X rays were unknown in 1883; Roentgen did not observe them until 1895.

    comment on #28 & #29: These people already knew (or could have known) that a galloping horse exceeds 15 mph, yet the rider can still breathe!

    response to Vance Qualteri (assuming that the comment was meant seriously):
    All Democrats?
    Including the Brits (Rutherford, Kelvin, Preece, Wells, Haig’s aide, Wilson, and Larder), plus Napoleon, that’s 8 out of 29 “predictors” who could not have been American Democrats. I don’t know, or care, whether any (or all) of the Americans were Democrats, but it’s irrelevant anyway. Anyone, of any political party (or none at all), can make a short-sighted prediction. Vance, keep your silly political slams to yourself.

    extension to Morgaine’s response:
    Even worse, Edison conducted many public demonstrations of “deadly AC”, stooping so low as to hire local boys to round up stray dogs and cats—and even steal pets from people’s homes!—to keep the electrocution machines well supplied. Never mind, of course, that a sufficient voltage of AC or DC will kill….

  • Ann

    27 David,

    We have the capability, what we seem to lack is the imagination.

  • Fallenangel

    Ann you are absolutely right

  • kyle

    It was Tesla’s AC system, Westinghouse bought the patent off him veru cheaply.
    The argument was mainly between Tesla and Edison.

  • rsfeller

    I won’t get into siting examples but many of the computer quotes starting with the DEC chairman have long been discussed as false or taken out of context.

    Shawn
    Ohio

  • don

    Doesn’t this make everyone feel better about pulling the occasional boner.

  • Skipweasel

    Lee De Forest didn’t invent the vacuum tube. He invented /a form/ of vacuum tube but such things had been patented at least two years earlier.

  • Excellent – so many posts these days are reposts of someone else list. This was really original, and well put together!

  • Oh yes, the terrifyingly breakneck speeds of 15 miles an hour.

  • Ann

    “Oh yes, the terrifyingly breakneck speeds of 15 miles an hour.”

    Actually, it can feel terrifyingly fast when you are on the back of a horse.

  • Paul

    Add Man Made Global Warming to the list of false predictions.

  • Paul: that is mentioned on another list on the site – conspiracy theories I think.

  • rsfeller

    Paul, it’s hardly disproved let along untrue. Although your bias toward not believing it obvious I couldn’t argue you point but as much as the non-greens say it’s all propaganda you cannot disprove it either.

    As far as my opinion I believe it’s true because it’s logical…not because I’m liberal or green. As a matter of fact I really don’t care (in one sense) about global warming because it’s ONLY a human problem. The early will be long after we are gone and recover from any damage we do to it with new living matter and species to come.

  • R Tullis

    There’s a quote I’m looking for, supposedly published in a newspaper review of an early telephone demonstration (possibly Bell in Glasgow in 1876) that said something to the effect of: “The telephone was most impressive and I can forsee a time when every major city in the world will have one.” anybody have a good citation for this quote?

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  • Slammerworm

    Well, the year 2000 came and went and still you can’t holiday on the moon or go to work by jet-pack. The told us a whole lot of hooey about the future back in the 1960s and 1970s when they wanted to engender some goodwill for the space program. We’re not farming the sea, either come to think of it…

  • albert0

    I would love to see some of these guys faces when they discovered that there predictions were hopelessley wrong!

  • fishing4monkeys

    hahahaha #28 “setting fire to crops” 15MPH=breakneck speed!? hahaha I know this was along time ago but man that’s funny considering any kid with a bicycle can go over 15MPH now…

  • Drogo

    Enrico Fermi, an early atomic scientist predicted that the first atomic bomb explosion will cause a chain reaction that would destroy the world. He was so sure the first nuclear bomb test was going to end the world that he made $1,000 bets with (I think) 12 people. When it didn’t happen, he made good on the bet. One by one, over several years, he payed each person the $1,000 he owed.

  • Vodie

    The only thing Edison was good at was plagiarising stuff.

    Anyhow, quotes like these make me want to point and laugh derisively at those who say time travel is impossible.

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  • devilishgrin66

    I can’t remember who said it but I think it was mid 1900’s and it was something like “everything that will be invented has been”

  • Nzbyrd

    LMAO

  • hdeva

    Make the movies “family time” again!
    http://cleanmymovie.com/

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  • Anon

    Edison was a moron.

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  • cipher

    Highly motivating… If you are really willing to pursue your sreams for as you as you achieve it, you would actually achieve it.
    So just keep going my friends
    Cheers to life and dreams
    http://www.decipheringlife.com
    (Deciphering Life, Dreams and Success)

  • zzzlyle

    Nice list but:
    1 and 2 are wrond according to this link:
    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kevinmaney/2005-07-05-famous-quotes_x.htm

  • Adam

    to Vodie:
    Time travel is not necessarily impossible.
    But it is impossible in our scientific description of the universse etc. We consider time to be a 1 dimensional thing, which does not allow for time travel in a conventionally conceived way.
    To even start considering time travel, we need new scientific descriptions of the universe; new theory.

  • uvberot

    “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” -Bill Gates (1981)
    where Gates is referring to the hard drive…
    HAHA, sorry Billy..640Kb, i dont think so..

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  • Fenrir

    Just goes to show that even smart people are dumbasses when predicting the future. “Atomic energy? Telephones? AC? Television? Raliroads? MOTORCARS?! Now your just talking moonshine.”

  • MUGZ

    It’d be nice if you had a few predictions from people who would predict things that WOULD happen, instead of them all predicting things that wouldn’t. Skepticism isn’t really making a prediction.

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  • TXRaider

    Regarding No. 24, in all acuality, that may not have been that far off from being the truth. If my memory serves me correctly, “home taping” was essentially the first step in copyright infringement. Afterall, how many people made a “mix tape” for their girlfriends from songs on the radio? A very early predecessor to file sharing.

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  • smerlinder

    How about the one that nuclear electrical energy would be so cheap that there would be no need for household meters?

  • lies

    nice to read it adds more information that we haven’t learn from class discussion….. although all of this things has a negative impact not only the people living in small area but through out the world. but because we want or rather people wants to know about the things that undiscovered.

  • gixxer17md

    This I would say it an educatonal to list. thanks

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  • Theodore

    This list may someday include Howard Hayden’s book “The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won’t Run the World”. I just read it a few months ago.

    If the author had been at Kitty Hawk when the Wright brothers flew their airplane he would no doubt have told Wilbur over a cup of coffee “You know you didn’t go very high. There are trees taller than that. There is no way this thing could be a commercial success. The cost of cutting down the trees will bankrupt you!”

    If you like this list, you will love the book. It’s hilarious.

  • Ironcross

    Do rockets actually ever leave Earth’s atmosphere or merely the crew module? I know they jettison the main tank and the SRBs on the shuttle, isn’t this done BEFORE they leave Earth’s atmosphere? In order for the rockets to burn outside the atmosphere they would need O2, I also do not think there is a mix of O2 in the propulsion – I could however be wrong.

    • Of course rockets work outside the atmosphere – and yes they do carry O2. How else would astronauts ever dock with, and then leave, the International Space Station? Not to mention how 12 astronauts landed on and then left the Moon. Plus all the unmanned probes to Mars, Jupiter, Venus etc which need to make course corrections enroute (and maybe go into orbit around the destination planet).

  • Steph

    How wrong they are!

  • Kitty

    Wow, this is immensely funny! It seems like a lot of these claims were made because competitors wanted the other company to fail! Maybe they wanted them to give up a big investment, so they could take advantage of it and all the profit and fame would go to them instead? A shot in the dark, though.

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  • jajingna

    Yeah some of the claims were just in self-interest, nothing to do with whether the speakers really believed them, just trying to persuade others.

  • Alan Curtis

    How about we start looking to make some of these comments ourselves.

    http://crazyfuturetech.blogspot.com/2009/01/brain-computer-interface-part-i.html

  • Matt42

    There are some ads on magazines of the 60’s saying that in the 80’s people would live in huge domes and drive floating cars.

  • g0alpost1

    GREAT LIST.. I LOVE THIS SITE!

  • derelk

    #1 is completely factually incorrect. The name is spelled wrong, the quote is not verbatim and is taken terribly out of context. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Olsen

  • odusanya seye

    I guess there’s no impossibility about the future… Many predictions manifest when we’re probably out of dis world….. Anything is possible

  • matt

    @ 78 , ironcross,

    yeah you are wrong, :( the rockets are indeed jettisoned early, this is because by jettisoning a large part of the total weight, you can actually travel farther, faster, with less energy. the change in momentum helps the payload enter orbit. also, rocket fuel combustion does not require an air atmosphere to burn.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_fuel

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multistage_rocket

  • doug

    This is a great wep site too bad you dont have an mail to icon I/ld love to send this to family and friends

  • Ben

    Vodie:

    Time travel is absolutely impossible.

    Time is an illusion borne of space like colour is an illusion borne of light, it isn’t actually a thing that once existed or will in the future exist… unless of course, you quote me yesterday.

  • Sueper

    to Doug 88. Why dont you copy n paste the addy into an email and send the link? Or am I confused as to what your needing?

  • Crimanon

    I’ve noticed in these lists, on television, articles, books, whatever media you enjoy; There are always people who want to deny progress. Whether knowingly or not, it is still detrimental to progress. I child growing up “Knowing” something to be false will never try to disprove it and so won’t move forward.

    Why is there a cap on our imagination? Why do we even still use the word impossible to describe things that we can’t, as of yet, understand. Haven’t we proven the word useless? Just because We can’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s not do-able when They do it.

    This feels like an educational stumbling block that’s too big to jump over… We need Pole Vaulting!

    “Impossible is not a scientific term.” – Vanna Bonta.

  • kevin a.

    Well put! “Unfortunately for the speakers, many of these failed predictions have been recorded for all future generations to laugh at. Here is a selection of the 30 best.”

    Wouldn’t you hate to be one of those fools forever documented as a naysayer to genius? The naysayers were purported experts of the time. And fools of the future — while those they sought to stop are our heroes.

    Society still has the twerps who accuse blossoming genius of being ridiculous or impossible. Do we recognize either?

  • Crimanon

    Kevin, you’re there in heart. But, My thoughts were centered more towards general society.

    “13. “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” Naysayer or genius?

    It’s all in who is doing the talking, Is it the scientist or his parrot? One of them has the Knowledge and dedication to make a call that could be right, the other will believe anything that is said.

    My point, is that there are too many parrots flittering around thinking that they “Know Stuff” when in actuality they just took some ones word for it. Not enough thought left, it doesn’t even have to be original, like recreating Teslas experiment, that work was never finished.

    “Always move forward, Going straight will get you nowhere.” _ Green Day

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  • jeff

    the only thing i think will never happen is time travel because if there was going to be time travel there would be tourists from the future walking around.

  • simondelliott

    These are really funny, I especially like the ones saying that the telephone is dead, Ive just written my own technology predictions here now I wonder how manny are duff !
    Thanks for this it was very good .

    :)

  • Theodore

    So where do we go to see the top 60?

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  • cwoods

    This just makes me so excited…look at all the things people thought were ridiculous or impossible back then. Who knows how wrong we could be about the future?

  • Joseph M

    My good friend who happened to be an engineer way back in the early 1980s, predicted that TV programs would all be sent digitally in the not too distant future. Not only that, but you would be able to selectively watch a program whenever you wanted, start and stop, and even move through it just like a video tape, but the program was stored remotely.

    I said nah, there will never be enough storage, and you’d probably need bandwidth like almost a megabit per second. It’ll never happen.

  • Thad Grey

    One small correction it was not George Westinghouse but Nikola Tesla that invented AC current. Edison had a personal rivalry with Tesla even going so far as to have “former” lab assistants trash Tesla’s lab. Edison was a thief half of what he invented or published was stolen from others. If you don’t believe it look up the history on his movie about a trip to the moon.

  • Luke

    Interesting predictions. Makes me excited for our future, and excited to think what it must have been like to live through some of the technological advances. Flight would have been an amazing one.

  • AKrupp

    Didn’t Nikola Tesla invent the AC current? I know westinghouse pushed it and eventually made it a reality to have in our own homes, but I’m pretty damn sure Tesla came up with the first demonstrations.

  • tsholo_m

    #28 is super funny…

    15 mph…breakneck speeds…whoa, watch that train go!

  • superdave

    me 1992: no one needs to have a phone with them all the time. Guess I was wrong

  • Natasha

    Superdave…..You are NOT wrong! Just because we have a phone all the time, doesn’t mean you NEED it.

    A old quote (author unknown):

    “He didn’t know it couldn’t be done, and went ahead a did it anyway!”

  • mff

    times change but people don’t.

    Don’t take anyone for their word.

    He climbs the rist, watch and turn.

  • ejes

    #2 is wrong, bill gates is never quoted in saying this.

  • Myles

    Just want to correct #23. AC is not George Westinghouse’s invention, he funded Nicola Tesla for his inventions.

  • Mark

    Great quotes, except check your sources. #28 is bullshit:

    http://www.snopes.com/language/document/vanburen.asp

  • Bunny

    No. 7

    Richard Pearse from New Zealand flew 12 months after that claim. In a biplane design that is very close to modern microlights. He also flew circles above the crowd.

    Though USA refused to send observers because it would prove that USA had lost the race. Australian observers were sent though and confirmed powered flight six months before the Wright Brothers in their primitive kittyhawk that could only stay in the air for a short time, and could only fly in a straight line.

  • Bunny

    to early in the morning. Richard Pearse created a monoplane not a biplane.

  • mike

    These lists are for lazy folks to feel great that someone more ambitious or successful failed temporarily.

  • Steve

    shopped

  • Bryan

    Richie its not good enough for the quick persons so plz tell good deeds mate.

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  • Psynyde

    # 24 is sort of becoming true. what with blank cd’s, burners, and the internet

  • feng

    lol

  • feng

    these people were all commies

  • Shine Raj

    Interesting facts.

  • ri

    Tesla invented AC current.

  • mike

    Conference calling will be a solution for this
    find more at http://www.conferencecallingforless.com/

  • Andre Comeau

    Great list.
    One of my favorite computer quotes was from Peter Norton (the name behind Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus) in 1988.
    “We’re dealing with an urban myth. It’s like the story of alligators in the sewers of New York. Everyone knows about them, but no one’s ever seen them. Typically, these stories come up every three to five years.”

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  • the dude

    the Einstein one, number 13, isn’t technically a prediction. it’s a fact.

    “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

    there WAS no *indication* nuclear energy would ever be obtainable… (to my knowledge) he never said it was IMPOSSIBLE

  • Nancy

    I recall a very clever memoir about growing up in the 1950s that devoted nearly a chapter to the stupid things that they thought they would eventually get; mail delivered via missile, vegetables in sticks, the aforementioned nuclear vacuum.

  • xana001

    This gives me hope that something deemed impossible today may actually come to light:

    A really cheap energy source available to everyone who can read and follow directions

    Faster than Light Travel or FTL information transmission

    50 mile per gallon cars (oops … this one already has come true and then some in the last 50 years)

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  • Faranya

    “# 24 is sort of becoming true. what with blank cd’s, burners, and the internet”

    And the music industry is doing perfectly fine.

  • BigSe63xy

    I don’t remember wher nor who said it but someone, sometime said that everything that could be invented has already been invented. That should be on this list.

  • Reay

    Those bigwig CEO’s of the music industry are forever claiming that some new fad/invention will ‘kill off the music industry. I for one am reminding them that music was there Way before any music industry was invented, and will be there long after the music industry (Hopefully) does crash. Surely there cannot be a worse example of slave contracts and the legitimate ripping off of kids than in the so called ‘Music industry’. long after it’s demise, kids will carry on making good music in their bedrooms etc.

  • tony
  • glen

    well… 24 is kinda true. taping the radio turned into burning cds turned into pirating music which sucks income from lots of bands, musicians, and others involved.

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  • dance365

    Kool! thanks for putting this up here…we have a dumb project due about this in computer class

  • That proves me that not every person can have the vision and imagination beyond their time, like Da Vinci or Jules Verne.

  • anonymous

    nikolai tesla did alternating current…

  • Melanclock

    Nikola Tesla was completely ignored for the vacuum tube and AC current in this article.

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  • john

    Great collection of quotes. But I have to ask, how did Charlie Chaplin get credit for being an actor, producer, director and studio founder, but there's no mention of Martin Van Buren being President…. even though he's writing a President. I had a laugh at the irony of it all.

  • Whopper Jr

    This list sucks, it's mainly about stuff people said wouldn't happen that did happen. These are more like un-predictions than predictions.

    Boring.

  • futurism

    I wonder what the silly predictions are of this generation? Will people look back at us and think wow they didn't have a clue. But surely everythings been invented now! haha

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  • Ina

    the last one applied to radio, but think how it applies to things like twitter

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  • mrsmarvel

    Bill Gates has predicted that voice recognition would be perfected in the next ten years for at least 20 years. :-)

  • Kjh242

    Well, number 13 isn’t so much a prediction as an observation- that nuclear fission did not seem probable. And at that point in history (not until about 1944) the technology to explode atoms was indeed out of reach, therefore it was impossible for them to “shatter an atom” at time of saying. No indication is not the same as will never.

  • durkay

    Seriously awesome list!

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  • Cynical

    Some of these, for their time, were actually reasonable reactions. Note this for anything you scoff at in the here & now.

  • tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

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