Bad Predictions

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These people got it completely wrong.

Variety magazine, 1955

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Charles Darwin, writing in the foreword to On the Origin of Species, 1859

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Economist Irving Fisher in October 1929, three days before the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression

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A Decca Records executive to the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, following an audition in 1962. He continued: “We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.”

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Time magazine, 1968

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John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of the Future, 1936

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Margaret Thatcher, Oct. 26, 1969

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Guglielmo Marconi, pioneer of radio, writing in Technical World magazine, October 1912

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Kaiser Wilhelm II to German troops at the outset of World War One, August 1914

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Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861

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Dr. Dionysys Larder, science writer and academic, in 1828

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Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923

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New York Times, 1936

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Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, in InfoWorld magazine, December 1995

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The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903

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William Orton, president of Western Union, in 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell the company his invention

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Charlie Chaplin in 1916, two years into his big-screen acting career. The rest of the quote: “It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.”

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An aide to British military commander Field Marshal Haig wrote this in a report following a tank demonstration, 1916

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Thomas Edison, 1889. The lightbulb inventor insisted his own direct current (DC) system was superior to competitor George Westinghouse’s AC power, and took every opportunity to discredit alternating current

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Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948

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Byte magazine editor Edmund DeJesus, 1998

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Alan Sugar, 2005

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Popular Mechanics, 1949

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Sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling in The New York Times, 2007

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 2007

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