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Old 07-21-2019, 12:58 PM   #1
business_kid
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Wrong Forecasts


I did a talk some years back which focussed on prophecy versus forecasting. My research turned up some famously wrong forecasts, which I append below. Of them all, I think only George Cayley (in bold) was om the money.
Quote:
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"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." - Editor of business books, Prentice Hall, 1957.

"But what...is it good for?" -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

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

"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.

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility." -- Lee DeForest, inventor.

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

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" -- H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"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."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." -- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." -- Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"It will be years -- not in my time -- before a woman will become Prime Minister." -- Margaret Thatcher, 1974.

"I see no reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone." -- Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, 1869.

"With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market." -- Business Week, August 2, 1968.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." -- Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality." -- Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
-- Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
-- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"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.

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"There will never be a bigger plane built." -- A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

"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, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.

"The future is like a corridor into which we can see only by the light coming from behind." - Edward Weyer Jr.

"As to Bell's talking telegraph, it only creates interest in scientific circles, and, as a toy it is beautiful; but ... its commercial value will be limited."- Elisha Gray

"I am well convinced that Aerial Navigation will form a most prominent feature in the progress of civilization. (1804) -- George Cayley

"An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than for illumination. " --After Andrew Lang

"It is often said there are two types of forecasts ... lucky or wrong!!!! "
-- in "Control" magazine published by Institute of Operations Management

"Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future." -- Warren Buffet

"I believe that economists put decimal points in their forecasts to show they have a sense of humor." --Francis X. Clines

"This is the first age that's ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one. " --Arthur C. Clarke

"Wall Street indices predicted nine out of the last five recessions ! " --Paul A. Samuelson in Newsweek, Science and Stocks, 19 Sep. 1966.

"I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." --Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and inventor of Ethernet, writing in a 1995 InfoWorld column

World Economic Forum, 2004: "Two years from now, spam will be solved."
Today, spam accounts for over 90 percent of all e-mail sent.

* Foreword to the OS/2 Programmer's Guide, 1987: "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time." OS what?

* COMDEX keynote speech, 2002: "Within five years, I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America." "It," in this case, was the Windows Tablet PC, where you write with a stylus on the screen. Oh well.

* "Apple [is] a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future."TIME, February 5, 1996

* "Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple as we know it is cooked. It's so classic. It's so sad." A Forrester Research analyst, January 25, 1996 (quoted in The New York Times)

* "The NeXT purchase is too little too late. Apple is already dead." Nathan Myhrvold (Microsoft's chief technology officer, June 1997)

* "Apple's erratic performance has given it the reputation on Wall Street of a stock a long-term investor would probably avoid."Fortune, February 19, 1996
*
"'The idea that they're going to go back to the past to hit a big home runis delusional,' says Dave Winer, a software developer." The Financial Times, July 11, 1997

* "The iMac will only sell to some of the true believers. [It's] clean, elegant, floppy-free and doomed." The Boston Globe, May 14, 1998

* "For all of his success, all Steve Jobs had really accomplished was a temporary pause in Apple's long-term decline."Infinite Loop, 1996, by Michael S. Malone

* "I'd shut [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders."
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, Inc., 1997

* "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

* "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 every night."Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946

"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 (said in 1961)

But what...is it good for? -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

By the time you read this story, [Apple] the quirky cult company...will end its wild ride as an independent enterprise. --Fortune, February 19, 1996

"Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future." -- Warren Buffet

... But as records of courts and justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value. -- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

By the time you read this story, [Apple] the quirky cult company...will end its wild ride as an independent enterprise. --Fortune, February 19, 1996

"Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future." -- Warren Buffet

Fooling around with alternating current's just a waste of time. Nobody'll ever use it. Too dangerous! --Thomas Edison.

[We shall be able to produce] strawberries as large as apples for our great-great-grandchildren; raspberries and blackberries so big that one will suffice for a single person. Horticulturist, 1901 in The Independent.

The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad. --Banker advising Ford's lawyer not to invest.

The year before the outbreak of war, Danish historian and politician Peter Munch wrote optimistically: All evidence is against the probability of a war between the great European powers. 'The danger of war' will also disappear in future, as it has done time after time since 1871.

Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo. -- actress Mary Pickford, 1925

Last edited by business_kid; 07-21-2019 at 01:19 PM.
 
Old 07-21-2019, 08:08 PM   #2
ntubski
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I kind of feel like you're really missing the classic
Quote:
It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.
Originator unknown (though probably Danish), it seems. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/10/20/no-predict/

Quote:
"It will be years -- not in my time -- before a woman will become Prime Minister." -- Margaret Thatcher, 1974.
Hmm, I wonder if that was just a case of her not wanting to tip her hand.


By the way, you have the Buffet quote repeated 3 times.
 
Old 07-21-2019, 09:34 PM   #3
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looks to me there are some peoples options, and proverbs mixed in within peoples predictions here.
 
Old 07-21-2019, 09:40 PM   #4
frankbell
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In any event, it is quite a list.
 
Old 07-22-2019, 04:41 AM   #5
business_kid
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@ntubski: I don't think that's a classic, personally. All forecasts/predictions are about the future. There was the substance in that from Control magazine: "There are 2 types of forecast: Lucky, or wrong."
The Bible is full of predictions that came true. In many instances, false prophets were saying one thing, whereas true prophets were saying another. I'll provide examples if you like, but I know some have an aversion to anything religious.

@BW-userx: I didn't think proverbs were there, containing wisdom. It was wrong predictions, or stunning lack of vision. I particularly like Lord Kelvin's remark: "Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.

And, of course, IBM's comment on the integrated circuit. Funny thing is, at the time (1968) he was right. The device fabrication size was ≥10uM (10^-6), as opposed to today's 7nM (10^-9), if it was digital, it was good for ~ 2-3 mhz, but if it was your 741, it was only good for a few tens of khz with +/-15V supplies. RF Transistors of the day were good for up over 100mhz, and thermionic valves even faster.
 
Old 07-22-2019, 07:12 AM   #6
ntubski
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Quote:
Originally Posted by business_kid View Post
All forecasts/predictions are about the future.
Yes. That is the joke.

Quote:
The Bible is full of predictions that came true. In many instances, false prophets were saying one thing, whereas true prophets were saying another. I'll provide examples if you like, but I know some have an aversion to anything religious.
Better keep the biblical examples to the mega-religion thread.

Quote:
@BW-userx: I didn't think proverbs were there, containing wisdom. It was wrong predictions, or stunning lack of vision.
I guess this is a reference to the following, which aren't predictions:
Quote:
"An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than for illumination. " --After Andrew Lang

"It is often said there are two types of forecasts ... lucky or wrong!!!! "
-- in "Control" magazine published by Institute of Operations Management

"Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future." -- Warren Buffet

"I believe that economists put decimal points in their forecasts to show they have a sense of humor." --Francis X. Clines

"This is the first age that's ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one. " --Arthur C. Clarke
 
Old 07-22-2019, 08:12 AM   #7
BW-userx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by business_kid View Post
@ntubski: I don't think that's a classic, personally. All forecasts/predictions are about the future. There was the substance in that from Control magazine: "There are 2 types of forecast: Lucky, or wrong."
The Bible is full of predictions that came true. In many instances, false prophets were saying one thing, whereas true prophets were saying another. I'll provide examples if you like, but I know some have an aversion to anything religious.

@BW-userx: I didn't think proverbs were there, containing wisdom. It was wrong predictions, or stunning lack of vision. I particularly like Lord Kelvin's remark: "Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.
which is an option.


Quote:
Originally Posted by business_kid View Post
And, of course, IBM's comment on the integrated circuit. Funny thing is, at the time (1968) he was right. The device fabrication size was ≥10uM (10^-6), as opposed to today's 7nM (10^-9), if it was digital, it was good for ~ 2-3 mhz, but if it was your 741, it was only good for a few tens of khz with +/-15V supplies. RF Transistors of the day were good for up over 100mhz, and thermionic valves even faster.
I do think IBM doing what they did, that person is/was more short sighted, and narrow minded.

I'd conciser this a proverb
Code:
"Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future." -- Warren Buffet
Shows the wisdom of being able to tell something about someone on the basis of what they say. A tree is known by its fruit.


I'm not going to pull all of them, what I conciser proverbs, out but, yes, again it is quite a list of peoples thoughts.
 
Old 07-22-2019, 08:26 AM   #8
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Shouldn't all of those quotes be in the quotes thread?
 
Old 07-22-2019, 11:11 AM   #9
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I remember hearing one story (I can't give chapter and verse) about the boss of an electronics company (possible Intel) who was shown one of the first microchips developed by his R&D department.

"That'll never catch on," he said. "No one is going to pay good money for something they could so easily mislay. You drop it on the floor and hey presto! It's gone down a crack between two floorboards."

"No, you don't understand," they told him. "This is something you can deliberately drop down a crack and then just go and buy another one. We can mass-produce these and sell them for peanuts because all the costs are fixed costs up front."
 
Old 07-22-2019, 01:43 PM   #10
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There is a rather distinctive difference between an actual forecast, based on studies, and a personal opinion or speculation. An example might be Bill Gates reportedly saying he couldn't imagine anyone would ever need more than 1 MegaByte of RAM, when he obviously "had a dog in that race" or mere accurately had no dog to enter since he and his company had yet to figure out how X86 could address more than 1M.

Pre 20th century farmers whose living depended a lot on weather forecasts even though they were acutely aware of their own perceptions of cloud formations, temperature changes, etc. instead heavily relied on The Farmers Almanac, since, crude as it is depending on past patterns, was still more reliable than a gut feeling. These days weather forecasting is far more accurate especially for just a few hours or days in the future.

Many of the so-called forecasts in this list are merely gut reactions and agenda-ridden opinion.
 
Old 07-22-2019, 03:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbjsb001
Shouldn't all of those quotes be in the quotes thread?
Probably should be. I didn't know their was one. My bad.

@enorbet: Yes Bill Gates' remarks on memory were due to the hardware designers having hijacked the A20 line (Relevant in the 512k-1MB range) for hardware I/O in a totally unnecessary waste of resources. Mind you his 16bit boxes were replacing largely CP/M boxes (8 bit, 64k of ram, or 64k per program with paging). They were running Accounts, Stock Databases, word processing of sorts, etc in small businesses here. They ran 4.5 days a week; Thursday morning the 'computer' wasn't available because the wages were going through

Quote:
Originally Posted by BW-userx
which is an option.
:-O? Which is the option you see as an option? Yes IBM were very short sighted but engineers often are. When I was born, we had primitive PNP transistors in experimental circuits, but the thermionic valve was supreme. All the progress was during my life, and it was sometimes a rough ride.

I concede on the Warren Buffet as a proverb, and probably others. I expect a proverb to teach me something, and I don't usually scrape the bottom of the barrel for wisdom.
 
Old 07-22-2019, 05:04 PM   #12
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Regarding this one, billed as a "Wrong Forecast"....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Above
* Foreword to the OS/2 Programmer's Guide, 1987: "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time." OS what?
I am a bit surprised, business_kid, considering you seem to know some fairly deep level computer information and history, that you are apparently unaware of just how important OS/2 was and still is. It was the first true 32bit OpSys and marked the all important solutions to 16bit segment limits, >1M addressing in protected mode (now obsolete, but then a breakthrough facilitating switchable modes of operation assisting the development of the 386 somewhat the opposite of what IBM was going for <banked on 286 support> and did miss out on for a time) the HPFS file system which MS renamed NTFS still in use today and still often "incorrectly" discovered by many partition/file system managers as HPFS, as well as being the first multitasking, multithreading and completely preemptive OpSys ever.

It's heritage was Unix, Xenix, and a greatly improved DOS as well. With just the adition of emx runtimes, even OS/2 Warp 3 was able to run the early Enlightenment Desktop Manager. When even Windows NT could not access multiple drives except one at a time, OS/2 could access many without requiring SCSI drives. It was also thew very first OpSys available with everything needed by default to connect to the internet in 1994. Win95 which severely beat OS/2 in sales still required a 3rd party dialer and weird networking settings and protocols. Some say Win95 won out because "if IBM bought out the best sushi distributor, they'd market it as 'raw, dead fish'" while Billy and the boys understood Madison Avenue glitz and terminology. Without MS involvement in OS/2 there would be no WinNT, XP, Win7, Server2003, etc., etc. It's anybody's guess how long MS OpSyses would crash just from plugging in a USB Scanner LOL.

OS/2 is still in use in 2019 by the New York subway system and many banking ATMs all over the world as well as a few remaining Flight Control Towers and medical installations where Mission Critical performance is required, despite having been sold off by IBM in 2006. Still not only did some installations continue but OS/2 morphed into eComStation and now ArcaOS which released it's latest version, 5.0.3, in August of 2018. Even ArcaOS is heavily based on OS/2 WSeB (web server for e-business) With this legacy it should not be at all surprising that IBM bought out RedHat for $34,000,000,000.00. OS/2 helped make Linux possible among many other deep fundamental advances. There is hardly an OpSys in existence that does not owe huge debts of gratitude to IBM's OS/2.
 
Old 07-23-2019, 04:16 AM   #13
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Yes, I suppose I did miss out on OS/2.

At the time I installed it, it was "The OS" for IBM's model 2 of the PC(Forget what it was called - PS2?). At the time, they had special connectors, buses, etc protected by patent and seemed intent on creaming off the majority of the profits on it, so, I gathered, priced themselves out of the hardware market.

I installed OS/2 on whatever system I had at the time (early - mid nineties), and yes, it was good OS. I'm in Ireland, and I haven't met it since. Then, I was a self employed Electronic Genius in Industrial Electronics, and a growing family, research to keep up to date with my diverse hardware repairs, designs and projects, and a growing religious involvement kept my nose out of the unnecessary. I'm better on the 70s/80s stuff than the nineties.
 
  


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