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It is not always easy to foresee what new technology can do …

"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 hearing of the invention of trains, 1864.

"It's a great invention but who would want to use it anyway?" - Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell's telephone, 1876.

"I foresee a future where there is a telephone in every city in the United States” - Alexander Bell, 1877.

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." - Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

"... good enough for our transatlantic friends ... but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men." -- British Parliamentary Committee, referring to Edison’s light bulb, 1878.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.

"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.

"Man will not fly for 50 years." - Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, to brother Orville, after a disappointing flying experiment, 1901 (their first successful flight was in 1903).

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." - Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904.

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced." - Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909.

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." - Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923.

"To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances." - Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926.

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." – Attributed to Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, on seeing the first mainframe computer in 1943.

"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.

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." - Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

"Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years." - Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955.

"The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most." - IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

"Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition." - Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962.

"With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself." - Business Week, August 2, 1968.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" - Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer Inc., on his and Steve Wozniak's early attempts to distribute their personal computer.

"The processing power of our mainframes is about 200,000 larger than that of the PC. PC’s will never reach that level." - Anonymous research manager at IBM, General Technology Division in East Fishkill, NY, 1984.

"No one will need more than 637 kilobytes of memory for a personal computer." - Attributed to Bill Gates, 1985.

“There will be 10 million mobile phone users in 2000 at maximum, predominantly used in cars” - McKinsey advice to AT&T which lead them not to further invest in their mobile invention, 1990.

“The Intelligent Network is being superseded by a Stupid Network, with nothing but dumb transport in the middle, and intelligent user-controlled endpoints, whose design is guided by plenty, not scarcity, where transport is guided by the needs of the data, not the design assumptions of the network.” - David Isenberg at AT&T, shortly before leaving the company, 1997.

“Nobody is going to spend 50 cts per SMS for a teletext based chat service” – Guus Jansen, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Telfort, 1998.

“Why would we change a winning formula ? ” – Attributed board discussion at Polaroid about the need to invest in digital photography, 1999.

“The Internet and its applications are replacing the telecommunications services and telecommunication industry. It is replacement not convergence …” - Henry Sinnreich, 2005.

There is a thin borderline between business blunder and business brilliance, but at Caneval Ventures we believe that daring and visionary concepts are worthwhile pursuing.

If you have a daring business proposition that you want to bring to market, please contact us at info@caneval.com

... but we like innovative ventures and keep practicing:

 

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