Bet they are eating their words now…


Everything that can be invented has been invented. Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the US Patent Office, in 1899.

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. Thomas J. Watson Snr, IBM chairman, 1943.

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons. Popular Mechanics, 1949.

The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most. IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production in 1959.

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.

We will never make a 32 bit operating system. Bill Gates.

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.

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

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 Company in 1903.

The Titanic is well able to withstand almost any exterior damage and could keep afloat indefinitely after being struck. P. Franklin, vice president, International Mercantile Marine, 1912.

Aeroplanes are interesting toys but are of no military value. Maréchal Ferdinand Foch, 1911

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

There will never be a bigger plane built. A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247 in 1933, a twin-engine plane that held ten people.

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.

[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.

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

With regard to the electric light, much has been said for and against it, but I think I may say without contradiction that when the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it, and no more will be heard of it. Erasmus Wilson, Oxford University professor, 1878.

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.

The internet is just a fad – Ines Uusman, Swedish Minister of Communications, 1996 (disputed)

And when comes to the arts:

  • The Beatles were rejected by Decca records after submitting to a recording test.
  • In addition to not hiring the Beatles, Decca records fired Buddy Holly. Their A&R man called Holly “the biggest no-talent I ever worked with.”
  • The Grand Ole Oprey fired Elvis Presley after one performance.
  • MGM turned down Gone With the Wind.
  • A still unknown Robert DeNiro auditioned for the original Godfather as Sonny Corleone. He was rejected for being too scary “too chilling”.
  • Clark Gable was turned down by Warner Bros because “his ears are too big”.
  • Charlie Chaplin lost in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  • “Can’t sing, can’t act. Can dance a little.” Fred Astaire’s RKO screen test results.
  • Clint Eastwood was fired by Universal Studios for having an Adam’s apple that was too big.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

Leave a Reply