Quotes from naysayers

What writers & others say

Quotes from naysayers

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” — Charles H. Duell, commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, in 1899. Image by Marija Zaric

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.”
— Gary Cooper, on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With the Wind

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
— Decca Recording Company, rejecting the Beatles in 1962

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.”
— Professional drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to drill for oil in 1859

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
— Charles H. Duell, commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, in 1899

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.”
—Sir John Eric Ericksen, Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, in 1873

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
— Irving Fisher, professor of economics, Yale University, in 1929

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
— Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in 1981

“But what … is it good for?”
— IBM engineer, commenting on the microchip in 1968

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
— Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society, in 1895

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
— Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder, Digital Equipment Corp., in 1977

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
— Pierre Pachet, professor of physiology at Toulouse, in 1872

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”
Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, in 1949

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”
— Prentice Hall editor in charge of business books, in 1957

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
— David Sarnoff’s associates, in response to the RCA executive’s urgings to invest in the radio in the 1920s

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
— H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, in 1927

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
— Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943

“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, in 1876

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
— Yale University management professor, in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
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