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What the "Experts" Predicted

"Everything that can be invented has been invented" --Charles Duell, head of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899

"X rays are a hoax." --Lord Kelvin, physicist, c. 1900

MARTIANS BUILD TWO IMMENSE CANALS IN TWO YEARS --New York Times headline, Aug. 27, 1911

"The chemical purity of the air is of no importance." --L. Erskine Hill, lecturer in physiology at London Hospital, 1912

"The radio craze. . . will die out in time." --Thomas Edison, 1922

"While theoretically the television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility." --Lee DeForest, inventor of the Audion tube, 1926

"[By 1940] the relativity theory will be considered a joke." --George Francis Gilette, American engineer, 1929

"50 years hence. . . [we] shell escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium." --Winston Churchill, 1932

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

"The Bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives." --Admiral William Daniel Leahy, advising President Truman on the U.S. atom-bomb project, 1945

"Space travel is utter bilge." --Richard van de Riet Wooley, on assuming the post of British Astronomer Royal, 1956

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"640K [of memory] ought to be enough for anybody." --Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, 1981

"The cloning of mammals. . . is biologically impossible." --James McGrath and Davor Solter, writing in Science, Dec. 14, 1984


From The Experts Speak by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky (Villard) as published in TIME Magazine, March 29, 1999


Alexander Graham Bell predicted that someday every city in the country would have a telephone.

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