Sunday, July 27, 2014

24 Historical Quotes That Proved To Be Very Wrong

There are the statements made, then there is the reality that follows.  Here is a list of 24 historical quotes, words that were probably believed by many when they were first spoken but have since been proven to be very wrong.

24)  "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

23)  "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
  --Decca Recording Company on declining to sign the Beatles, 1962

22)  "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

21)  "Reagan doesn't have that presidential look."
  --United Artists executive after rejecting Reagan as lead in the 1964 film THE BEST MAN.

20)  "Train travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
  --Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830

19)  "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
  --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

18)  "X-rays will prove to be a hoax."
  --Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883

17)  "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."
  --Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880

16)  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

15)  "Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
  --Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946

14)  "No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free."
  --King William I of Prussia on trains in 1864

13)  "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
  --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston

12)  "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

11)  "No, it will make war impossible."
  --Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, in response to the question "Will this gun not make war more terrible?" from Havelock Ellis, an English scientist, 1893

10)  "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

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

8)  "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

7)  "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

6)  "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

5)  "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

4)  "It'll be gone by June."
  --Variety Magazine on Rock n' Roll, 1955

3)  "And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam."
  --Newsweek, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s

2)  "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

1)  "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere."
  --New York Times, 1936

Right now, somewhere in the world, there is a prominent person making a statement about some new emerging innovation that will give future generations a good chuckle.


Sandra Dailey said...

Wow ~ so people just made this stuff up? They would have been good facebookers. ;)

Ashantay said...

In some unknown cave somewhere, a painting exists of a man portrayed laughing at the first wheel...enjoyed the post! And, I'll use these quotes as a reminder to be open to the new rather than afraid of change. Thanks.

Louise Lyndon said...

A great post. I particularly like the telephone one - if they were alive today I wonder what they'd think of the telephone now!

Lilly Gayle said...

I remember hearing people back in the mid to late 80's (myself included) saying, "Who's going to pay for bottled water when you can just turn on the tap?) That old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" makes a lot of sense, but it inhibits growth, expansion, and change. Then again, sometimes change is not for the better.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to your lists each week Samantha. This was a particularly good one! Thanks.

GK Parker said...

In 1981 Bill Gates proclaimed nobody would ever need more than 640KB of memory on their personal computer. He also didn't think the Internet would amount to anything which is why Microsoft was the last to develop a web browser.

Arthur C Clarke had a rule: If an older, established scientist tells you something is impossible or will never be achieved, he'll be wrong. Old minds, even very smart ones, have trouble seeing major changes coming in their field.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sandra: they probably would have stirred up some active Facebook interchanges. :)

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: LOL...I love the visual of the caveman laughing at the drawing of the wheel. And somewhere, it probably happened.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Louise: That really would be an interesting thing to see since today's cell phone does so much...and I understand that they actually allow the user to make phone calls, too. :)

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Lilly: I remember that bottled water thing, too. And before that, it was the same concept with paper towels. Who's going to pay for one time use paper towels when...

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Andrea: Glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

GK: To go along with Arthur Clarke's comment--Charles Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, said that everything that can be invented has been invented. The infamous statement was uttered in 1899. Just think of all the things we wouldn't have if visionaries of that time just gave up.

Thanks for your comment.

Abigail Owen said...

Hilarious! Love it. And makes you realize that you should hold on to your dreams even in the face of total rejection by experts.

Samantha Gentry said...

Abigail: That's especially important for a writer since rejection is very subjective in nature...what doesn't work for one editor could easily be exactly what another editor is seeking.

Thanks for your comment.

Mary Morgan said...

Amazing! Laughing and shaking my head at some of them, but wondering which quotes now will be in the future here...Great post!

Samantha Gentry said...

Mary: Glad you enjoyed it. It would be interesting to see into the future and find out which statements ridiculing some new technology or innovation will prove to be wrong.

Thanks for your comment.

Vonnie said...

Excellent post, Samantha. Wish all those doom-sayers could see it!

Samantha Gentry said...

Vonnie: Yes...wouldn't that be fun to see their expressions and hear what they had to say about today's reality of what they dismissed as irrelevant?

Thanks for your comment.

Marlow Kelly said...

Luck for them that there was no social media back then or they'd have lost their jobs.

Samantha Gentry said...

Marlow: LOL...that's for sure! Or at the very least, they might have stirred up some lively exchange of opinions.

Thanks for your comment.