How far will technology advance in the next 20 years? That's kind of a difficult question to wrap your head around, isn't it?
Of course, that hasn't prevented people from offering up their own (sometimes bombastic) claims for what the future will hold.
From forecasting the demise of certain companies and technologies, to predicting the mass adoption of particular products, tech fortune-tellers have long been waxing philosophical about what's to come.
But in many cases, these predictions have proven to be categorically, unequivocally, wrong.
Here are some of our favorite examples of tech predictions that completely missed the mark.
7 Tech Predictions That Totally Missed the Mark
1) "I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” - Robert Metcalfe (1995)
This is one of the most well-known failed tech predictions. And the person who made the prediction, Robert Metcalfe (who co-invented Ethernet, FYI), even acknowledged how off the mark he was a few years after making the prediction. During a keynote speech at the International World Wide Web Conference, Metcalfe put a print version of his InfoWorld column that featured the infamous prediction in a food processor and -- quite literally -- ate his words.
2) "Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet -- which there isn't -- the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople." - Clifford Stoll (1995)
It turns out that Metcalfe wasn't the only seemingly intelligent person to predict the demise of the internet back in 1995. In an article for Newsweek, astronomer Clifford Stoll explained why the internet wouldn't be as transformative as many had been claiming. Specifically, Stoll called out the idea of "cyberbusiness" (read: ecommerce) as being totally impractical. As Stoll wrote:
We're promised instant catalog shopping -- just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations, and negotiate sales contracts.
This one isn't really phrased like a prediction, but it definitely hints at Dell CEO Michael Dell's vision of the future. The quote above was given in response to a question about what Dell would do with Apple if he were in Steve Jobs' shoes. (Jobs had just rejoined Apple at the time.)
Back in 2007, then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer thought the iPhone would be too expensive to earn widespread adoption. In an interview with USA Today, Ballmer even put a number on it. He argued the iPhone might end up with "2% or 3%" of the market share, but no more.
From the 1960s through their acquisition by Compaq in the 1990s, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was a major player in the American computer industry. But for founder and former president and chairman of DEC, Ken Olsen, the computer didn't seem like it would ever become a household consumer good (at least not in 1977, when Olsen made the comment above).