The Top Ten: Terrible technology predictions

 

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The Independent Tech

When the journalist and jazz critic Clive Davis wrote about a 1985 article in 'The New York Times' explaining why the laptop computer would never catch on ('It would be much simpler to take home a few floppy disks tucked into an attaché case'), Rory Graham suggested compiling a Top 10. After some of my predictions for the election, it seemed like a good idea…

1. 'Everyone's always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone. My answer is, "Probably never"'

David Pogue, The New York Times, 2006. The iPhone came out in 2007.

2. 'Someone inquired if I was a foreigner'

George Stephenson on the reaction of a Parliamentary committee in 1821 to his claim that a steam locomotive could reach a speed of 10 mph.

3. 'There is… no chance… space satellites will be used to provide better telephone… television or radio service inside the United States'

Tam Craven, Federal Communications Commissioner, 1961.

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

Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943.

5. 'Computers in the future may weigh no more than one and a half tons'

Popular Mechanics, 1949. But let's remember – it's not wrong, says Lloyd Bracey.

6. 'Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years'

Alex Lewyt, president of Lewyt vacuum company, 1955.

7. 'Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box'

20th Century Fox executive Darryl Zanuck, 1946.

8. 'The Internet… this most trendy and oversold community'

Clifford Stoll, Newsweek, 1995.

9. 'The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys'

Sir William Preece, later chief engineer at the Post Office, 1878. Foreseen by Xlibris1.

10. Any of Alan Sugar's products

Suggests Issy Flamel, unfairly (we should at least exclude his green-screen word processor and the early PCs).

Next week: Familiar phrases that don't mean what people think they do ('Now is the winter of our discontent', and so on)

Coming soon: Pop songs shorter than two minutes.Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to top10@independent.co.uk

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