Hi folks,

Today we are going to tell you about how risky taking guesses in IT can sometimes be.

Our point is by no means ridiculing famous persons, of course: mispredicting happens to all of us all the time.
But wrong guesses coming from great gurus of the world even in their very own domain of expertise (from which their wealth/notoriety came, may we add) is relevant for reminding us all that prophecy isn’t a gift for us humans to have.

For appetizers, here are some non-IT examples first:

In 1895, Lord Kelvin (famous physicist which, at that time, was also president of the Royal Society of England), said: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible“.
It took no longer than 8 more years for the plane of brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright to take off at Kitty Hawk, mind you.

It will be years – and not in my time – before a woman will lead the party or become Prime Minister“, said Margaret Thatcher in one of her political speeches in 1974.

Here’s one from Toulouse, France too, so you won’t suspect us of having subjectively gathered this selection: “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction“, said in 1872 Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse.

Or another French example: “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value“, thought in 1911 le marechal Foch, which in the final months of World War I was to become the supreme commander of Allied forces.

Feeling better now, seeing how such bright people having their names carved in History’s Hall of Fame sometimes pathetically fail same as the rest of us, mortals, do?

Wait to see the IT ones, take a look:

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication“, said in an 1876 internal memo William Orton, president of Western Union, when Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell the company his invention.

In 1943, Thomas Watson, one of the legends behind IBM said: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Well… he might have been right for WW II times, frankly.

But we have more recent ones too.

There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home” said in 1977 Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.
Apparently, Olsen’s comment is a misinterpretation,  his words having been taken out-of-context (he later explained that he was actually talking about computers meant to control people’s homes).
But fact is people prefer a good laugh rather than hearing elaborated explanations, so Olsen remained stuck with this quotation like for eternity.

Seems that slightly same thing happened to Bill Gates with regard to the notorious sentence: “640 K ought to be enough for anybody” (the difference in this case being that Gates is sometimes just so hard to be trusted).
Especialy given that he also said: “We will never make a 32-bit operating system” (early 80’s).
Or: “Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time” (2004).

Steve Jobs had his share of mistakes too.
For example, in 2003 he said in an interview for the Rolling Stone magazine “The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt“.

That is, not to mention YouTube’s co-founder Steve Chen, which in March 2005 was lamenting that “There’s just not that many videos I want to watch“.

Well, since guesses are related to predictions let’s not finish before proposing you an exercise to learn more about your own guessing skills.
Did you read our previous article on PaperScan v.2 release?
Take a good analytic look on the photo of our team depicted there (you can click to enlarge it) and make your guess: which one is Loic, our CEO ?
In our next article we are going to tell you the correct answer.

See you, folks!

Bogdan

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