History is full of wrong predictions about new technology

in technology •  last year

Since most of us don't have a crystal ball, predicting the future is not always easy. Especially when it comes to predictions about technological progress, adoption rates, or market potential. How about Bitcoin or blockchain technology? Is it a major innovation or just a buzzword? Let's look at some predictions from history first...

8 Tech Predictions That Totally Missed the Mark


"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." ~ Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

1943 is a long time ago and to be fair, when IBM's president Thomas Watson said "computer" he actually meant a a huge machine as big as a house. He was right in his prediction that few people ever wanted such a machine, but who could ever predict that we would wear a computer in our pocket as we do today.


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

Years later, in 1977, there were still people around in the computer business that didn't believe people would ever use a computer at home.


"Two years from now, spam will be solved." ~ Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, 2004

Bill Gates predicted the end of SPAM emails within two years during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in 2004. Unfortunately, the spam problem only increased in the years after his prediction.


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

When Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold made this comment back in 1997 most people in the computer business didn't believe in Apple's future. And here we are, one decade later. Who could have predicted that Apple would overtake half of the world with a smart phone?


"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, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946

When the executive of 20th Century Fox, Darryl Zanuck, made this prediction he had already produced more than 100 films for the big screens in cinemas. Who in the world is going to watch a movie on a small screen at home? "People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night", was his reasoning.


"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.

Graham Bell had just presented his telephone in 1876 when the chief engineer of the British Post Office told him there was no need for such a device in his country. They had plenty of messenger boys after all... Well, apparently not enough.


"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad." ~ The president of the Michigan Savings Bank, 1903

The president of the Michigan Savings Bank strongly advised Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co. in 1903. The automobile was only a novelty. The enthusiasm people had back then would be short-lived.


"Bitcoin is a fraud. It's worse than tulip bulbs. It won't end well." ~ Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, 2017

Bitcoin a fraud? The future knows Jamie Dimon is wrong.

Bitcoin is not a fraud. Bitcoin is transparant, it is decentralized, it is free from government interference and manipulation. There is no Federal Reserve System to print more money out of thin air to an unlimited supply. Anyone in the world can use it without signing up somewhere. It is fully open source. Payments are very cheap and international without any exchange rates or extra charges. Anyone can start accepting Bitcoin payments without investing anything or setting up a merchant account or something. It's money reinvented. Digital gold. How can this be a scam or a fraud?

Some people are afraid of technical innovation. Like a horse company 100 years ago: "Cars are dangerous and steal the jobs of horse wagon drivers". Or the British Post Office in 1876. Or the cinemas in 1946. But history proves that technical innovation always wins.

Bitcoin quotes / predictions

Rick Falkvinge, Founder of the Swedish Pirate party

“Bitcoin will do to banks what email did to the postal industry.”

Tyler Winklevoss, co-creator of Facebook

“We have elected to put our money and faith in a mathematical framework that is free of politics and human error.”

John McAfee, Founder of McAfee

“You can’t stop things like Bitcoin. It will be everywhere and the world will have to readjust.”

The future is here. We live in a freaking exciting time!

¯\___(ツ)____/¯ Don't miss out on my next post! Follow me @penguinpablo

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Good one. I really enjoyed this post and will share it with some of Luddite friends on FB. Some of the worst calls in history right here.

Your post is amazing @penguinpablo. It is enough to end skeptical views of people.

I really hope that we will NOT find John McAffee's recent predictions about bitcoin in such a list three years later:


Another famous quotation about Internet from the inventor of Ethernet, Robert Metcalfein December 1995

"I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse."

Blockchain is the technology of the future similar to Internet of 1990s and people are yet to grasp its impact on the economy. In decades, there will giants like Google, FB, Amazon that worth 100s of billion dollar market cap.

Great article and quite interesting to see how some of the worlds most incredible technological advancements were initially received. Hindsight is 20/20 and while some of these quotes are quite erroneous, it is worth noting they were given by competitors of the new technology, so I would say bias definitely had something to do with their predictions.

The nuclear bomb was built to destroy the humanity. However, until now it has been a deterrent for the WWIII not to mention the clean energy the nuclear power plants produce.


But when it is used, it will cause massive destruction.


Sure! If it will be ever used

thanks for this simple and very informative..
bitcoin will be ahead whatever banning bitcoin.. or fraud..

@penguinpablo I wonder if people realize that they can make 5-10 times their money with STEEMIT over the next 2-3 years ?? I am not predicting a price of where it will be in that time frame I am just saying that a lot of people may wish they were here at or before when we came to STEEMIT..............

Interesting summary, I guess that how all new tech would face.
With Bitcoin there're more criticism because it challenges many's preconceived notion of the current financial system. I used to watch Jamie Dimon's videos for fun.

I was skeptic about bitcoin at first but i regret it now . Bitcoin RULES.

It’s a GREAT time to be alive! Very exciting indeed! 👍

Just reading through the comments is a very interesting exercise. Steemit is here to stay.

Bitcoin / Block chain prediction - "25 years from now, the Block chain and it's currencies, will have made Central Banks, all traditional banking, and most Government functions obsolete. The need for traditional intermediaries will be gone. Those who would rule over others, using force will have no basis for that oppression. Only the threat of violence will remain, - people will simply ignore these despots. Even the possibility of being ruled by violence will be diminished... Because Despots will not have the resources to perpetrate it on the masses." - Goathollow (Fat ugly old guy in Iowa.)

It's funny how most skeptics are people who fear that the upcoming technology will drive them out of business. Jamie Dimon(cryptocurrency + banking), William Preece(communication industry+telephone)...

Here's a bit food for thought. Most of the predictions were wrong because they saw something that existed as adequate. If there's a any clue in that, crypto is actually here to stay.

I'm Bitcoins case, fiat exist so why use digital?

You are absolutely right !
Thanks for sharing .
Appreciate your effort dear @penguinpablo !

I would agree only to one and that is that bitcoin is the fraud.
Time will show who was wrong

Being wrong when making predictions can happen to the best of us:

"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

1997 most people in the computer business didn't believe in Apple's future. And here we are, one decade later.

That's 2 decades, btw. :D


Dammit i was waiting for the Satoshi white paper to be published!!

A lot has happened since the founding of BTC. Thanks for sharing this quotes. Some knowledge is added again.

That is really an awsome article, and shows exactly that some predictions that were mentioned in the past did not have the real landscape to be real in the near nor in the far future.
Personally I only love one of those predictions that you mentioned at the End:
Rick Falkvinge, Founder of the Swedish Pirate party
“Bitcoin will do to banks what email did to the postal industry.”
I wish from the deep of my heart that this will happen as soon as possible.
because we are tired of the corruption of the motherfu..... banks already.

may you live in interesting times... a blessing or a curse??
I fear we are living in those kind of times and it will be both a blessing and a curse combined... lets hope we get more of the first and less of the latter

How wrong so many predictions were. A programme called Beyond 2000 ran from 1985 to 1999. Someone said in one of those programmes "in the near future there will be people working at careers that we cannot not even imagine could ever exist". This is a very loose quote, because I can't find that specific quote. I just put it in quotation marks so that you can get the gist of what I am trying to say. Well, THAT prediction was right! Who would ever have thought of a career in crypto-trading...or blogging, for that matter??!!

Now is the time when the bank industry should adopt digital currency. If they won't, they will miss the train and then they start to regulate crypto currencies in a way we don't want to. We have to understand, that the bank sector is very bound to our governments. So does any government want that it's people have a currency that they can't regulate somehow, i don't think so. Blockchain technology and crypto currencies will be a vessel for world democracy, but there is a lot of fences on the way.

Good post !!!'

Predictions maybe not right something

Thanks for sharing..nice i

What about technologies that promised the moon and landed nowhere? :P

I love your posts, and you're right on this one, but to be honest, these examples have been told or shown a billion times before. No offense, but it's becoming a bit tiresome for me.

On the other hand, I already believe in blockchain. While it might be too early to be optimistic about it, I can see serious opportunities. The fact that it can't be controlled by those who are, well, in control nowadays shows great potential for the "opressed".

That is absolutely great
Everyone is being sceptical until they see the real potential of bitcoin
Thanks for making such an encouraging Article
Have a lovely time Steeming

Wow. . great idea your posting..

% of the population is resistant to change, these leads to stability, as only things that prove themselves make it. It really is a form of 'evolution of the fittest' ..

we must be wary tho, some forces oppose what is good and right for they own survival and not the common good. because it is so, it must be good and right, but what if we didn't fight for death but welcomed change and realize that change is just a new beginning, a new life, nothing of value is ever lost, just forgotten for a time, let us remember now!

stay vigilant my friends. seek out what is good and true.

vote with your attention. vote for what will make this world a better place.


Ha ha ha hysterical how wrong the so called "experts" can be :)

Excellent post :)

Now I can use this post, to win in the kind of debates that I tend to have with everyone around me. Excellent stuff!

thanks for upvote in my post

Original work sir. Nice post.

I still see Dimon as the outlier in that list. Seems to me that all the other quotes were honest assessments but Dimon is trying to talk down something he can see is going to steal his lunch in the future. Maybe not Bitcoin specifically but cryptocurrencies.

There are very few historical examples of individuals - much less corporations - voluntarily giving up power and influence so talking Bitcoin down makes sense for him

Thank you @penguinpablo for these quotations. They make you think deep and do an introspection.

I like it ....and yes it is freaking exciting time :)

Thanks for putting all of these quotes together, I have the butterfly feeling in my stomach knowing how much blockchain technology is going to revolutionize the world.

Thanks for up vote me @fakirafaruk

thanks for up vote me @fakirafaruk also follow me i already follow you @fakirafaruk


one more wrong prediction-
"A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere." - What the New York Times surmised in 1936.