25 Biggest False Predictions Concerning Technology

Posted by , Updated on November 20, 2022

Technology is a distinctive marker of development. When we think about the future, we often imagine a world where every task is simplified by machines, and where robots who are smarter than human beings rule. Several years ago, several predictions were made concerning technology—how human interactions will be made better by technological advancements, and how the advent of machines will make digital interfaces a lot like telepathy. While some of those predictions were fairly accurate, others still have us waiting. Here is a list of the 25 biggest false predictions concerning technology.


Worthless Telephones

Worthless Telephones

In a Western Union internal memo issued in year 1876, it was published—“This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” More than a century since this statement was first published; there is no denying that it was a failed prediction. The telephone has been one of the most important inventions to have ever been introduced in the modern world, and even now that mobile phones are more widely used, the value of telephones in the corporate world can never be underrated.


X-Rays Are Fake

X-Rays are Fake

Mr. Lord Kevin, the former president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, argued in 1833—“X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” Back then, x-ray technology was just discovered by Rontgen. Little did Lord Kevin know that a century after, this invention would be deemed as among the most valuable discoveries in the field of science. X-rays today are generally used for digital imaging, where bone and organ structures are examined to identify infirmities.


Submarines Are Useless

Subs are Useless

A British writer famous for his writings in the science fiction genre, H.G. Wells once stated his view of submarines—“ I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea”. While submarines today are used to perform specialized functions both in expeditions and military operations, it was a total mistake for Wells to deem it useless.


Copying Machines Are Too Big

Copying Machine Too Big

Sometime in 1959, multinational technology and consulting corporation IBM released a statement saying that “The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most .It had no market large enough to justify production”. Today, photocopying machines are among the most valuable machines that cannot be absent in any business setting. One can never imagine a school, a commercial or government office operating while devoid of a photocopier.


Cinema Is Just A Passing Trend

Cinema's a Trend

Renowned actor, producer and comedienne Charlie Chaplin claimed in 1916, “The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage”. Stage plays used to be the most popular, but since the dawn of cinemas, going to movie houses have outshone watching theaters as a form of recreation. And the fad over cinemas is never as fleeting as Chaplin thought it would be. Until today, more and more people discover the fun in watching their favorite actors on the silver screen.


Rail Travel Is Impossible

Rail Travel is Impossible

Irish scientific writer Dionysius Lardner, the one who popularized science and technology, once made a prediction that travelling through rail would be impossible—“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia”. Since the dawn of the 18th century, however, several rail systems that provide passenger transport service to people have become so popular because of their speed and the convenience that they provide to commuters.


Space Travel Will Never Happen

To The Moon and Back

Audion inventor Lee De Forest claimed in 1926–“To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth – all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances”. In 1962, Neil Armstrong and two others were the first men to step on the moon and come back to the earth alive.


Alternating Current Is Useless

Alternate Current is Useless

American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison, in his aim to mock rival George Westinghouse, remarked in 1889–“Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever”. Years after, his statement proved to be a fallacious one, since alternating current (AC) is now the form of electric power widely used in the distribution of energy to businesses and residences.


Electric Lights Will Be Gone For Good

Electric Lights Will Be Gone for Good

Two decades ago, Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a British physician and a professor at Oxford University, foretold, “When the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it”. Back then, over six million visitors would come to Paris to witness the spectacular event where the colourful lights flooding the city were among the major attractions. Today, one can never imagine the world without electricity.


Radio Is A Fad

Radio Is A Junk

American radio and television pioneer David Sarnoff was once asked to create a music box. In 1921, he remarked–“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?”.Sarnoff never realized at the time that there could ever be no end to ways through which sound could actually travel. By the 20th century, people have gone so gaga over wireless devices.


Nuclear Energy Is Only A Dream

Nuclear Energy is a Dream

Sometime in 1932, renowned German theoretical physicist and inventor Albert Einstein claimed–“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”. Today, the obtainment of nuclear energy is used in the creation of nuclear energy, medicine, and even weapons of war. Also, nuclear power is used today in heat and electricity generation.


Railroads Are To Risky To Be Successful

Railroads are Risky

New York Governor Martin Van Buren wrote to the US President in 1830–“Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads’ … As you may well know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed”. Today, railroads are among the most convenient modes of transportation of the modern man, and they can ride them without breaking their bones.


Computers Are Not For The Home

Computers Are Not for The Home

In 1977, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) president, chairman and founder Ken Oslon issued his statement against computers saying–“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Today, nearly every home has a computer in it, and one can only imagine how difficult life would turn out to be without computers and the internet, both for students and employees, individuals and families.


Cars Are Just Trends

Cars are Just Trends

Once in 1902, the chief of the Michigan Savings Bank advised the lawyer of Henry Ford, the developer and manufacturer of the first affordable automobile, “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad”. He advised Ford never to invest his money in the creation of automobiles since according to him, they were just a whim that would soon pass. But it is far-fetched to imagine modern-day thoroughfares dominated by horses and not cars.


Passenger Planes Are Not Possible

Passenger Plane Not Possible

An engineer of multinational aerospace and defense corporation Boeing once remarked “There will never be a bigger plane built,” just right after he got off from his first flight of 247, a double engine plane that can accommodate up to ten passengers. Today, airplanes come in a variety of sizes and are among the most popular means of both domestic and international transportation. A mini plane called airbus can hold a minimum of 60 people.


Vacuum Cleaners Will Run On Nuclear Energy

Vacuum Cleaners on Nuclear Energy

The president of vacuum cleaner manufacturer Lewis Corporation, Sir Alex Lewis, predicted in the 1990’s that “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.” It has been more than a decade, but the reality of these nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners is still naught. There are not even ongoing studies trying to prove that such an invention will ever be possible.


Rockets Will Never Leave The Atmosphere

Rockets Will Never Fly High

One of the monthly issues of New York Times Magazine released on January 13, 1920 foretold–“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” This was an editor’s remark on the then prevalent talks about the possible launch of rocket ships to explore the outer space sometime in the future. In 1969, the prediction was broken as Apollo 11 was launched and went on its way to the moon.


Satellites Will Never Be Able To Improve Communication

Satellites with No Signal Improvement

When asked about his future prospect of communication satellites in 1961, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Tunis Craven claimed, “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” This was eventually proven false, when a communication satellite named Syncom 3 successfully transmitted communication signals from Japan to the United States during the 1964 Olympics.


32 Bit Operating Systems Will Never Exist

32 Bit Operating Systems

Several years ago, American business magnate and programmer Bill Gates hilariously predicted, “We will never make a 32 bit operating system.” The famous chief operating officer of Microsoft Corporation proved himself wrong when Microsoft released graphical operating system Windows 98 on May 15, 1998. It is a hybrid 16/32 bit operating system that has an MS-DOS based boot stage.


TV Won’t Catch On

TV Viewing is Casual

American film producer and executive Darryl Zanuck said in 1946, “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”. More than 65 years since the time he issued the statement, watching movies and shows on television still seems to be the most basic form of recreational activity there is.


Steel Planes Will Never Fly

No Steel Planes Flying

Canadian-American astronomer who lived until the end of the 18th century, Simon Newcomb, predicted before he died–“Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.” This turned out to be a wrong calculation, as the renowned Wright brothers successfully designed and built power aircraft named Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, just 18 months since the prediction was made by Newcomb.


Boats Won’t Be Able To Sail Against The Wind

Sailing Against the Wind

In 1800, French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte remarked, “How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me. I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.” Today, large buoyant watercrafts are known to sail through the deep even with the presence of strong winds and roaring tempests.


Trans-Atlantic Voice Transmission Impossible

Voice Transmission Possible

More of a true predictions that no one else believed, Lee De Forest, an American inventor, once remarked–“It would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years”. He made the prediction sometime in July 1913, when he sold the stock of his own radio telephone company (triode vacuum tube patent) to AT&T and the Bell System. Today, trans-oceanic telecommunications cables criss cross the Earth.


The British Post Laughing At The Telephone

The British Post and the Telephone

In year 1878, the British Post Office proudly claimed–“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” Back then, telephones were not as popular yet as they already are today. That time, the American Post Office was already using telephone lines for fast communication, but the British Post Office remained firm that their messenger boys were more than enough to be in touch.


Nuclear Bombs Are Duds

A-Bombs are Duds

Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy during the Second World War in 1945, Admiral William D. Leahy told President Truman as they were about to launch the atomic bomb–“This is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.” Soon after it was launched, the atomic bomb petered out.

SEE ALSO: 25 Most Intelligent Animals On Earth »


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