Notable Quotes on the Future

Here is a list of quotes I have collected over the years. Famous and brilliant people have all tripped over this topic: the future.

1930 will be a splendid employment year.

US Dept. of Labor's forecast in 1929

Man will never reach the moon, regardless of all future scientific advances.

Lee De Forest, Radio Pioneer, 1957

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

Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.

Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology, 1872

Radio has no future. heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.

Lord Kelvin (William Thomson), English physicist and inventor, 1899

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 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, British surgeon to Queen Victoria, 1873

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 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, 1876

Where ... the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.

Popular Mechanics, 1949

The problem with television is that the people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't time for it.

New York Times, 1949

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.

Ken Olson, Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

I predict the Internet... will go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.

Bob Metcalfe, Inventor of the Ethernet, 1995

640K ought to be enough for anybody.

Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, 1981

In 1980 when AT&T asked McKinsey to do a study of the mobile phone market and estimate the number of such devices for the year 2000, they came up with the number of 900'000. Based on that, AT&T decided to get out of this market. Currently, there are 400 million such devices with 900'000 new subscribers every 3 days!

The above is not a direct quote but I have included it here because though I do not have access to the original statement it fits in with the spirit of this article.

"the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development," on evidence "that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."

Scientific American, 1909

I have seen the future and it doesn't work.

Robert Fulford

An editorial in The New York Times written after Langley's second failure on December 8, 1903, predicted that manned flight was achievable only if scientists and mathematicians worked on it around the clock for the next 'one to ten million years.' It wouldn't take ten million years. It wouldn't even take ten days.

The Wright Way

After reading the above I suggest that you make and formulate your predictions very carefully. Also consider this wise and pertinent quotation: Predicting is difficult -- especially about the future. -- Yogi Berra. Or here is one that is foolproof: The best way to predict the future is to create it. -- Peter Drucker

Here are a bunch of links that have more interesting quotes:


feedback to Raju. Last edited on 2003-02-25.