Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Infamous last words

I served as an interpreter for an EMBA class named Strategic Management of Technological Innovation for three straight days - from June 14th to June 16th. Thanks to George Farris, our eloquent and humorous lecturer, we learned many serious concepts and ideas that can be used to formalize our strategic thinking in the decision making processes. But what I want to mention here are some amusing anecdotes from his lecture - some infamous last words made by some notable geniuses but they ALL turned out to be WRONG!

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

"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 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.)

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

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Irving Fisher, professor of economics, Yale University, 1929.

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

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." Charles H. Duell, commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

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