Smart People and Their Wrong Predictions

If there’s one thing we have learned as a society, it’s that people love predictions. Why that’s the case remains a mystery. It could be because bad predictions can be very entertaining, or perhaps because they’re highly provocative. There are “prophets of doom,” and then there are inventors who have a vision of the future that intrigues us. From predicting the end of the world to predicting that the telephone will never be of any value, prognosticators have failed time and time again. Here are some of the more ridiculous predictions that clearly didn’t come true, proving that smart people can make very dumb predictions.

“We will never make a 32-bit operating system.” — Bill Gates, Co-Founder, Microsoft

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, CEO, Digital Equipment Corp.

“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, Commissioner, FCC (1961)

“I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” H. G. Wells, Novelist, 1901

“There will never be a bigger plane built.” — Boeing Engineer after the first flight of the Boeing 247 twin engine plane that holds 10 people.

“Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality.” — Lt. Joseph Ives after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.