As subtle as a flying brick.

Failed futuristic predictions

Here’s a fine collection of 87 bad futuristic predictions from years gone by — many of them are risible because of their skepticism (see the “telephones” section below), but I’m very fond of the optimistic ones, too, like “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years” (Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955).


# «This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.» A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

# «The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.» Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

# «It’s a great invention but who would want to use it anyway?» Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell’s telephone, 1876.

# «A man has been arrested in New York for attempting to extort funds from ignorant and superstitious people by exhibiting a device which he says will convey the human voice any distance over metallic wires so that it will be heard by the listener at the other end. He calls this instrument a telephone. Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires.» News item in a New York newspaper, 1868.

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