Really terrible predictions

I know some of these are probably urban legends but….


I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM


The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many sceptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive. Prestigious economist Paul Samuelson in an economics textbook published in 1988, one year before the collapse of the Berlin Wall.


Airplanes are interesting toys, but they have no military value.  Marshal Ferdinand Foch in 1911


We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out. Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962


Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, October 16, 1929


Pish! A woman could piss it out Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth referring to what would become the Great Fire of London on Sunday 2 September 1666.


Everything that can be invented has been invented. Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, 1899.


Democracy will be dead by 1950. John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936.


Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government. David Steel at the 1981 annual conference of the UK Liberal Party. In the 1983 election the Liberal Democrats got only 23 seats (out of around 6508 and Thatcher won with an increased majority.


The battle to feed humanity is over. In the course of the 1970s, the world will experience starvation of tragic proportions – hundreds of millions of people will starve to death.  Dr Paul Erlich, in the best-selling book, The Population Bomb


They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist… Last words of Gen. John Sedgwick, spoken as he looked out over the parapet at enemy lines during the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864.


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 not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.


If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one. W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.


“Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”. BBC weatherman, Michael Fish. That evening, the worst storm (with winds of hurricane force) to hit South East England since 1703 caused record damages and killed 19 people.


 We’ll die in each other’s arms. David Gest’s prediction about his marriage to Liza Minnelli. Less than two years later, Gest was suing Minnelli for $10 million for beating him up, and Minnelli was suing Gest for divorce.


The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it…knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient. Dr. Alfred Velpeau, French surgeon, 1839.


So many centuries after the Creation, it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value. Committee advising King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain regarding a proposal by Christopher Columbus, 1486


The history of U.S. home prices suggests a clear potential for home prices to decline in individual markets, particularly in cities that have shown wide price swings in the past and where prices recently have risen dramatically. However, this same history also strongly suggests that it is highly unlikely that home prices will fall precipitously across the entire country—even if rising interest rates raise the cost of mortgage borrowing and reduce housing affordability. Analysis from the FDIC in February 2004.


4 Responses to Really terrible predictions

  1. […] media week 14/12/08 By molivam42 A few weeks ago I did a feature on bad predictions. This week The Independent had one about bad technological […]

  2. […] the Internet and compiling those collections such as Famous put-downs, Untranslatable words, Really terrible predictions, Classic cock-ups, and all those quotes. I have a fixed format but that allows me to write about a […]

  3. […] trope is the prevalence of failure in our world. I have done pieces such as Classic cock-ups, Really terrible predictions and Creative destruction in the financial sector. Today I want to look at this topic but from a […]

  4. […] classic example is Paul Ehrlich. In my post about bad predictions I included the quote by Paul Ehrlich from his best-selling book, The Population […]

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