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Tech predictions gone wrong

Kevin Fogarty | Oct. 23, 2012
The computer industry and the customers it serves have proven to be extraordinarily slippery during the past 45 years.

"Apple is already dead." -- Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, 1997

For the undead, Apple is doing well. It owns the tablet market and holds a big chunk of the highly diverse smartphone market. In August, Apple became the most valuable company in history with a market capitalization of more than $620 billion, nipping previous record holder Microsoft, which hit its peak in 1999 and is now worth about $260 billion.

"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, FCC commissioner, 1961

Really? Someone still believed that in 1961? Sputnik went up in 1957 with a transmitter that could relay phone calls. In 1960, the U.S. had passive phone relays in orbit from the Echo satellite and the first active repeater capability from the Courier 1B. In 1962 -- a year after Craven's dismissal of technology already functioning in orbit -- NASA put Telstar's Relay 1 satellite into orbit to relay calls across the Pacific, effectively spanning the globe. The "F" in "FCC" apparently doesn't stand for foresight.

"Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years." -- Alex Lewyt, president, Lewyt Corp vacuum company

Granted, nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners are not "information technology." Still, anyone predicting that Americans would not only want nuclear reactors in their homes, but want them to power breakdown-prone devices that spend most of their time being neglected in a closet (where they could plot meltdowns) deserves a special place in history.


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