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Back to the future

What does the future hold for computer science? It's always a tricky question to try and answer and many people in the past got their predictions splendidly wrong. Here are some of the best bloopers (allegedly).


The clock at the Musee D'Orsay

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." said a Western Union internal memo. Western Union is now one of the USA's largest telecom companies.


"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." wrote Popular Mechanics Magazine. If they had been right you'd need a crane with every laptop.


"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." said Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, a company which later went on to revolutionise the home PC market.


"But what ... is it good for?" said an engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM commenting on the microchip, which now of course runs all the billions of computing devices on planet earth.


"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." said Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. If Ken had been right there would be a lot more table top room in houses for dusting.