25 Famous Predictions That Were So Incredibly Wrong

Throughout history, experts of the time have made predictions about current events, future prospects and the fate of the world. There were many times where those people hit the nail on the head. However, there seemed to be many, many times where some of the biggest and most famous predictions in history were just, well, WRONG. When you scroll through this list, you might not be able to believe that people used to believe these as fact. Wow.

1. “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

replaced by coaches

2. “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

Americans need telephone

3. “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

Telephone many shortcomings

4. “Reagan doesn’t have that presidential look.” – United Artists executive after rejecting Reagan as lead in the 1964 film The Best Man

Reagan presidential look

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

Rail travel speed

6. “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

world potential market

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

a world market

8. “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883

X-rays prove hoax

9. “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

here to stay

10. “When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.” – Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson

Electric light close

11. A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times, 1936

rocket never leave

12. “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

No one pay

13. “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932

not slightest indication

14. “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston

no reason for

15. “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” – W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954

excessive smoking cancer

16. “No, it will make war impossible.” – Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, in response to the question “Will this gun not make war more terrible?” from Havelock Ellis, an English scientist, 1893

make war impossible

17. “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

wireless music box

18. “There will never be a bigger plane built.” – A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people

never be bigger

19. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” – Decca Recording Company on declining to sign the Beatles, 1962

guitar music out

20. “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

make ship sail

21. “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

Television won't last

22. “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

submarine doing suffocating

23. “It’ll be gone by June.” – Variety Magazine on Rock n’ Roll, 1955

gone by June

24. “And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam” – Newsweek, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s.

for the tourist

25. “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

a conspicuous failure

Not many people had faith in the advancement of technology. One thing you should be able to learn from this list of failed predictions, though, is that everything always changes. So lean into them, don’t run away. Share this curious list with others!

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