Over the years, a lot of technology predictions have appeared. We divide this post into two levels of predictions. First, we look at several “way-off” past technology predictions. Second, we examine future technology predictions. Which of those future technology predictions will be correct? Which will be “way-off”?

“[Consider] an old saying. “Predicting the future is easy … getting it right hard.” Today, we greet a large supply of forecasters trying to predict the future.  The interesting part looks at the past to see who was right and who missed.

“Many past technology predictions became famous by how wrong they were. Consider IBM Chairman Watson’s 1943 quote on “a world market for maybe 5 computers.”

Further, Szczerba cites examples of incorrect predictions. The technology predictions span 130 years. For his full list, click the link:

Especially “Way-Off” Past Technology Predictions

1876: Indeed, “this ‘telephone’ contains too many shortcomings to seriously consider as a means of communication.” — William Orton, President of Western Union.

1889: “As usual, “fooling around with alternating current (AC) just wastes time.  Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison

1903: “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, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company.

1946: “In short, “television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months.  People will get tired of staring at a plywood box.” — Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox.

1955: Yet “nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.” — Alex Lewyt, President of the Lewyt Vacuum Cleaner Company.

1959: “Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered in hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles.  We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” — Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General.

1966: “Remote shopping, while feasible, will flop.” — Time Magazine.

1981: “Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.” — Marty Cooper, inventor.

1995: “I predict the Internet will in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com.

2005: Still “there’s just not that many videos I want to watch.” — Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube.

2006: Indeed, “everyone’s always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone.  My answer, ‘Probably never.'” — David Pogue, New York Times.

2007: After all, “there’s no chance that the iPhone attains any significant market share.” — Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.


Future Technology Predictions

Lot sof technology predictions have appeared. We divide this post into two levels of predictions. First, we look at several “way-off”past technology predictions. Second, we examine future technology predictions. Which of those future technology predictions will be correct? Which will be “way-off”?
Above all, the infographic adds to our knowledge base. Our past posts include: A Look Back at Some WAY Off Predictions.Bloomberg 2016 Forecasts.2017 Global Economic Prospects from the World Bank.

10 Replies to “Past Technology and Future Technology Predictions”

  1. When reading some of those quotes said in the past about the future, one can’t help but to chuckle. However, I can understand why people doubted all of those technologies, because sometimes new ideas seem so out of touch with our current reality that we can’t possibly see them coming true. However, I think over the last 2 decades or so, technology has proved us wrong many many times, and we no longer doubt its abilities to develop. After reading that list of potential predictions for the future, I personally think all of those things can be accomplished at the rate we are going in. Our world is going to continue to change drastically because of new technologies and we need to be ready to embrace it with an open mind in order to be successful.

  2. I found the list of future technology predictions to be especially fascinating! At this point in time, technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives already, whether directly or indirectly. While many predictions made in the past have been incorrect, it is impossible to doubt advancements to current technology, as well as hard to say what technology can and will be capable of in the future. It is interesting to see the predictions and what year they are predicted for as I am sure that similar predictions made by others may fall in different places on the timeline for example, those involving the medical field may be capable of occurring earlier, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they will. New and advanced technology is in our future, both near and far and the possibilities are endless!

  3. It is very interesting to see the types of predictions that were made by influential figures such as Thomas Edison and Steve Baller. I understand the doubt, because some of the technologies (such as the car and telephone) were produced in times where technology may not have been advancing as fast as it is today. However, with all the break throughs, such as an iPhone, which is considered to have more technology in it then early space craft, the idea that anything is possible is not so far-fetched. Some of the predictions are scary, however I am excited to see what the future holds.

  4. It is very interesting to see how off the predictions are on things we use today so regularly. With the prediction that the automobile would only be a fad, how wrong they were back in 1903. Seeing how wrong the predictions were back then are this futurism predictions on technology as off as the others? Many of these predictions seem very unimaginable now yet in the future who knows what may happen. It will be very interesting to see if any of these predictions start to come true and what the future of technology holds.

  5. This list is very intriguing and it’s brought light to a topic I’ve never put much thought into. The world will likely be a very different place when current college students reach the age of retirement (whatever that will be in 50 years) and it’s basically unfathomable how different day-to-day life will be. One interesting piece of technology that was left off of this list was cell phones. I always imagine that 20 years ago, no one could have predicted how far cell phones would advance in such a short period of time, but I’m very interested in seeing how they further advance in the next few years.

  6. It is comical to read the past quotes and think how impossible these inventions seemed to people, yet they are now real objects that we use everyday. One quote I was most amused by was the William Orton’s prediction in 1876. It is astounding how far off his prediction was, not only given that telephones are probably our most used form of communication, but now it even takes several forms such as texting, Snapchating and FaceTiming. But Orton’s perplexion is understandable after reading the predictions for future inventions. It is hard to believe an invention such as holographic pets will one day be a reality. However, knowing how quickly our society has developed certain inventions, I definitely believe something as crazy as holographic pets will one day be possible.

  7. Things have definitely changed in the last 140 years. Stephen Hawking said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” and that is exactly what the plans in the infographic. The ability for humans to change something when they see a problem is the intelligence that Hawking could be talking about.
    As much as people in the past seem to criticize the inventions that we have today, it must be understood that it was a different time. Women couldn’t vote until 44 years after the invention of the telephone. In the next 100 years when we look back, I am sure that there will be some things that people said in 2017 that our descendants will think is bizarre.

  8. I believe part of being a great visionary is being open minded. Looking at the “things to come” bit of the post it is somewhat outlandish to believe these technologies can exist, but why not? Just they didn’t think the television would catch on who is to say holographic pets won’t. I think we are in an age of higher enlightenment and openness to outside ideas. The generation of the internet becoming available to us has opened our views to anything and everything. Chances are if you think you’ve come up with a great idea there is someone else out there trying to make it.

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