Wrong predictions

Forecasts that come true are easily forgotten. The prophet who live to see his prediction falsified by reality wishes it would slide into oblivion. But precisely these statements are echoed hilariously because, with superior hindsight, we know better than the famous person who made the prediction.

There are several interesting books about the phenomenon. Steven Schnaars’Megamistakes is one of the nicest. Several websites also carry nice collections of bad forecasts, e.g. this Wikipedia page.
Here’s a collection of my favourite forecasts that are off the mark.

  • “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
  • “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.
  • “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
    — Attributed to Bill Gates, 1981, but believed to be an urban legend
  • “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
    — H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers