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Famous Last Words

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” — Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.”

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” – - Admiral William Leahy , US Atomic Bomb Project

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.”
— Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers . “
— Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” — The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“But what is it good for?” — Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.


“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
— Bill Gates, 1981

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us,” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
— David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible,” – A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper,”
— Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make,”
– Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,”
– Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,” — Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this,”
- – Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads .

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy,” — Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
- – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University , 1929.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value,”
— Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre , France .

“Everything that can be invented has been invented,”
– Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

“The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required”
— Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University

“I don’t know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.” — the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
– Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse , 1872

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon,”
— Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

And last but not least…

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

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7 Comments to Famous Last Words

  1. April's Gravatar April
    July 24, 2007 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    I will take credit for those quotes. I sent them to ya! – April-

  2. Fridays's Gravatar Fridays
    July 24, 2007 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    Send Fridays your fun stuff and tid-bits of information and it just might get posted on Fridays.

  3. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    November 20, 2008 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

    Nice read, a few of these quotes have been de-bunked, including the infamous Bill Gates 640K quote.

    Here’s an article with a few of them.
    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kevinmaney/2005-07-05-famous-quotes_x.htm

  4. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    December 1, 2008 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    For something to be “famous last words” I think they must actually be “last words”…

  5. J W's Gravatar J W
    December 1, 2008 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Technically you are dead on right anonymous. I guess you would have to die after saying your last words to actually be your last words ever spoken.

    However, there is a figurative degree of uttering something so profound that it is made out to be a famous last words saying from someone at that point in time in their life, before everyone sees it turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

    So, let’s not get into the technicalities of this being someone’s famous last words on their deathbed. Heck, have a little fun with the figurative speech. Think outside the pinewood box.

  6. Sonny's Gravatar Sonny
    January 25, 2009 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    The one that Bill Gates stated was a classic.

  7. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    February 1, 2009 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    famous last words is an expression, not a literal description of what someone said before they died. basically pointing out the folly of misplaced confidence e.g. Person A: “I’ll easily lift that anvil!” Person B: “Yeah…famous last words.”

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