For all the great leaps and strides we’ve made in technological advancements, it wasn’t always easy. There have always been groups of people opposed to anything new and different, even the so-called experts who, despite their extensive knowledge, lacked the foresight to see what was coming. Some said that television would be a short-lived fad, others insisted that landline phones weren’t going anywhere. And as we already know, time definitely proved each and every one of them wrong. Below are five experts who failed to get it right.
1. Alternating Current Is a Waste of Time
During the current war of the 1880s, two very opposing ideas dominated the scene: Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC) power source and his rival Nikola Tesla’s alternating current (AC) power source, which allowed larger amounts of power to be carried over longer distances. Believing that his DC was the more superior of the two, Edison exclaimed: “Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” If only he was still around today to see just how wrong he was!
2. Cell Phones Won’t Replace Wire Systems
The first mobile phone call was made in 1973 by Martin Cooper, a researcher and executive for the Motorola company who dialed his main competitor in Bell labs to let him know that he was calling his from a handheld wireless device in the streets of Manhattan. But not even Cooper had faith in mobile devices saying, “Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.” Today, it’s the opposite as just about everyone has a cell phone with them, at all times.
3. Nuclear Power Isn’t Possible
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity played a crucial role in the development of nuclear energy and the atomic bomb. Despite his brilliant mind, Einstein failed to realize the magnitude of his research. In 1934, the genius scientist claimed, “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.” Four years later, two Berlin scientists discovered nuclear fission which gave birth to the atomic bomb and the hundreds of nuclear power plants we rely on to this day.
4. Communication Satellites Won’t Be a Thing
You’d think that someone like Tunis Craven, a former member of the Federal Communications Commission who assisted in the development of radio communications would see how important satellites would come to be. Instead, following the launch of the Russian Sputnik satellites, Craven assured the commission that, “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” Well, he couldn’t have been more wrong considering how heavily dependent we are on satellites today.
5. Television Is Just a Fad
Daryl Zanuck, an executive producer at 20th Century Fox with over 100 movies to his name, had this to say about televisions in a 1946 interview: “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Believe it or not, televisions have existed since the 1920s but didn’t gain traction until 1938. Zanuck couldn’t fathom the idea of a plywood box holding people’s attention for more than a few months. Today, there’s at least one television in over 1.4 billion households across the globe.
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