Coal

Forecasting Follies

Issue 6 and Volume 102.

Forecasting Follies

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“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

“But what is it good for?” Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

“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.)

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“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.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

“Louis Pasteur`s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872. p