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  • Thomas Thurston

Top 20 Innovation Predictions of All Time

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Innovators are no strangers to criticism and skepticism. After all, everything is impossible right up until the very moment the first person does it. So for all you innovators out there, here are my top 20 innovation quotes to keep a little gas in your tank and wind in your sails:

  1. “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” – Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 2007.

  2. “What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?” – The Quarterly Review, 1835.

  3. “There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” – Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize winner, 1923.

  4. “Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.” Boston Post, 1865.

  5. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” – William Orton, President of Western Union, 1876.

  6. “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

  7. “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin (again). 1895.

  8. “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” – The New York Times, 1936.

  9. “There will never be a bigger plane built [than the first Boeing 247 that holds 10 people]” – Boeing Engineer

  10. “Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it [the electric light bulb] as a conspicuous failure.” – Henry Morton, President of the Stevens Institute of Technology, 1880.

  11. “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” – President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in Ford, 1903.

  12. “Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” – Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

  13. “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” – Dr. Dionysius Lardner, professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, 1823.

  14. “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” – Ken Olson, President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

  15. “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most.” – IBM, 1959.

  16. “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” – W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.

  17. “We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy.” – Simon Newcomb, Astronomer, 1888.

  18. “I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here… We have spent millions in that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped.” – Simon Cameron, US Senator, on the Smithsonian Institution, 1901.

  19. “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”—Robert Metcalfe, 3Com Founder and inventor of Ethernet, InfoWorld, 1995.

  20. “It will be gone by June.” – Variety, on rock n’ roll in 1955.

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