10 terrible tech predictions



Making predictions has to be one of the easiest ways to make a fool of yourself, yet we can’t seem to resist the chance to forecast the future of gadgets.

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Mystic Meg never turned her hand to tech… and with good reason, too!

Since there’s no fully-functional crystal ball on the market yet, for every accurate vision of the future of tech, there’s a good few howlers.

In the positives column, a robotic vacuum cleaner like the Samsung Navibot might have seemed like an absurd prediction even 10 years ago. But now, for just a couple of hundred quid, you can put your feet up while a machine cleans your house for you.

As a result, an expert who appeared on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World all those years ago is smiling away to himself.

If only these guys were so accurate. Here are our top 10 worst tech predictions:

1. “Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput.” – Lord Sugar on the king of mp3 players in 2005.

2. “TV won’t last. It’s a flash in the pan.” – Radio educational broadcast pioneer Mary Somerville in 1948, who almost certainly didn’t see 3D TV on the horizon either.

3. “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.” – Lewyt Corp chairman Alex Lewyt, writing in the New York Times in 1955. Not quite, Al…

4. “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” – British Post Office chief engineer Sir William Preece in 1878. Alas, messenger boy is one of those jobs that just ceased to exist.

5. “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.” – Charlie Chaplin in 1916. Well, he was a funny man.

6. “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” – David Sarnoff’s associates didn’t back his idea to invest in radio in 1921. He probably had the last laugh.

7. “Reading on a screen was a chore, and unlike a hardcover you couldn’t take your computer to the beach.” – Clifford Stoll explained why eReaders would fail in 1995. Wrong!

8. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Digital Equipment Corporation chairman and founder Ken Olson speaking in 1977. In fairness, this was before the internet, email and of course, your favourite blog. Ahem.

9. “People won’t want to play these electronic games for more than a week, not once we start selling pinball machines for the home.” – Arcade Inc.’s Gus Bally, making a bold forecast in 1979. I would still like to own a pinball machine, but my PS3 takes up less space.

10. ”[TV] 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.” – 20th Century Fox movie producer Darryl Zanuck dismisses televisions in 1946. TVs now look sleek and shiny, perhaps that’s what has won people over…

Are you willing to gaze into your technological crystal ball? Tweet your best and worst forecasts @DixonsInTheKnow or comment below…