Famous last words on innovation

“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

“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” — Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830

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

“Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.” — -Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880

“The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.” — -The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

“Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — -Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946

“No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free.” — King William I of Prussia, on trains, 1864

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” — -Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921

“How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.” — Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat, 1800s

“The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous.” — Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration, 1916

“I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” — HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901

“It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed.” — JP Morgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, on Bitcoin, in 2017.