Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for
—Julius Sextus Frontinus, Roman Engineer
c. 10 A.D.
centuries after the Creation it is unlikely that anyone could find
hitherto unknown lands of any value.
—Advisory Committee to Ferdinand and Isabella regarding Christopher
Columbus' proposal to sail west from Spain toward
sooner believe that two Yankee professors lied, than that stones fell
from the sky.
—Thomas Jefferson, 1807, on hearing an eyewitness report of falling meteorites
for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're
—Drilling industry engineers, talking to Edwin L. Drake, 1859
know it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires. Even if
it were, it would be of no practical value.
Post editorial, 1865
Louis Pasteur's theory
of germs is ridiculous fiction.
—Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology, Toulouse University, 1872
The abdomen, the
chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the
wise and humane surgeon.
John Eric Ericksen, Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873
This "telephone" has
too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of
communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
—Internal memo, Western Union, 1876
Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of
—Sir William Preece
Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878
startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being
unworthy of science and mischievous to to its true progress.
William Siemens, 1880, on Edison's announcement regarding of the light bulb
Fooling around with
alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.
—Thomas Edison, 1889
The ordinary horseless
carriage is a luxury for the wealthy; it will never come into as
common use as the bicycle.
—Literary Digest, 1889
The more important
fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been
discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the
possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new
discoveries is exceedingly remote.... Our future discoveries must be
looked for in the sixth place of decimals.
—Physicist Albert. A. Michelson, 1894
It is apparent to me
that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago
were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem,
have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.
—Thomas Edison, 1895
Everything that can be invented has already been invented.
—Charles Duell, Commissioner
United States Patent Office, 1899
Flight by machines
heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly
—Astronomer Simon Newcomb, 1902
The demonstration that
no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery,
and known forms of force can be united in a practicable machine by
which men shall fly for long distances through the air, seems to the
writer as complete as it is possible for the demonstration of any
physical fact to be.
Simon Newcomb, 1906
Radio has no future.
Kelvin (1824-1907), President, British Royal Society
Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.
—Maréchal Ferdinand Foch,
L'École Supérieure de Guerre,
wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay
for a message sent to nobody in particular?
—Response to David Sarnoff's recommendations regarding investment
in radio, 1920's
trick." "Absolute swindler." "Doesn't know what he's about." "What's
the good of it?" "What useful purpose will it serve?"
—British Royal Society members, 1926, after a demonstration of
hell wants to hear actors talk?
—Harold Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927
flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris.
—Orville Wright, 1927
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 ever will be obtainable.
It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.
—Albert Einstein, 1932
The energy produced by
the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of
power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.
—Ernst Rutherford, 1933
just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary
Cooper, on refusing the leading role in Gone with the Wind,
I think there is a
world market for about five computers.
—Thomas J. Watson, Chairman of the Board, IBM, 1943
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.
20th Century Fox, 1946
Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.
—Popular Mechanics, 1949
will never reach the moon, regardless of all future scientific
Lee DeForest, inventor of television
Space travel is utter
Richard van der Reit Wooley, British Royal Astronomer, 1956.
I don't know what use
any one could find for a machine that would make copies of
documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by itself.
refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox
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
Book Editor, Prentice Hall, 1957
world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most. I don't
know what use anyone could find for a machine that would make copies
of documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by
—IBM Executives, commenting on Xerox, 1959
is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used
to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service
inside the United States.
Craven, FCC Commissioner, 1961
guitar's all right, John, but you'll never earn your living by it.
Lennon's Aunt Mimi, c. 1960
don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.
—Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962
what is it good for?
—Engineer, Advanced Computing Systems Division, IBM
Commenting on invention of the microchip, 1968
is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
Olson, Chairman, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977
You'll launch over our
—President of second largest USA cable company, in
conversation regarding the future of DBS, 1989
Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput.
—Sir Alan Sugar, British Entrepreneur, 2005
Telecommunications Authority would be crazy to support this proposal.
Sounds to me like NTA would be out of business.
—Mattlan Zackhras, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 3 March 2003, citing NTA
review of SWANsat
The United Nations does not endorse or offer opinions on materials or
projects generated outside the Organization.
of United Nations
15 May 2006,
commenting on the SWANsat System project
SWANsat does not and
will never exist. At the very least, its claims should be treated with
—Lloyd Wood, Satellite engineer, 2006
admire your vision and your determination and sincerely hope you
succeed, but to be totally blunt, we just have no interest in being
involved in any
—Hoyt Davidson, CEO,
Near Earth LLC, 3 August 2006
(We thanked him the compliment, but reminded him that we hadn't invited them...)