Tech Predictions For The Future That Definitely Didn’t Come True

The industry is constantly awash with tech predictions for the future. Wearable technology, curved televisions and devices that electronically ‘speak’ with every item in your household; these have already been hailed as the items that will dominate our lives in the years to come. However, it is worth remembering that many of these predictions will not come true. The things we think might be the biggest releases in the coming months may in fact crash and burn on release. But no tech predictions for the future have been — or perhaps ever will be — quite as off-base as these five:

1. “Next Christmas, the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput” – Alan Sugar

Before becoming the Pied Piper to delusional wannabe businesspeople on his TV show The Apprentice, Amstrad overlord Alan Sugar claimed that the iPod would be dead and gone by Christmas of 2005. It, of course, went on to be the most popular mp3 device of all time. This was not the only mistake Sugar made in his career. His last-gen games console, the Amstrad GX4000, died a quick and painful death. His office telephone with email capabilities, The E-Mailer, died a quick and painful death. As for his bulky and flawed PDA the PenPad — yep, you guessed it.

2. “There is no reason at all that any individual would ever desire to have a  computer in their house” – Ken Olsen

Tech predictions for the future don’t come quite as bad as this from Ken Olsen (pictured above) the founder and president of Digital Equipment Corporation, in 1977. Sure, this was only the very beginning of the computer era when many of today’s tech giants like Apple and Microsoft had just found their baby steps, but Olsen was no fool; he made hugely innovative computer flight simulators throughout the late ’50s with this company. So it’s a surprise that he was so far off base with his tech predictions for the future. His company’s profits sunk throughout the 1990s and what little remained was eventually sold to Compaq in 1998 – who, ironically, make products for people who want a computer in their home.

3. “Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night” – Darryl Zanuck

Fox producer Daryll Zanuck may have had three Best Picture Oscars for All About Eve, How Green Was My Valley and Gentleman’s Agreement. However, what Zanuck didn’t have a lot of was foresight. In 1946, he predicted that people would get bored or staring at plywood boxes all night long and predicted doom for the television set. Today, television is surpassing cinema for viewers, quality and content. At least he got one thing correct in his tech predictions for the future though: it’s plastic now, not plywood.

4. “The Americans need the telephone but we don’t becasue we have loads of messenger boys” – Sir William Pace

The Chief Engineer of the British Post Office shunned the idea of technology altogether a century ago when he laughed off the growing trend of telephones. It would, of course, have been crazy for Sir William Pace to imagine the incredible role phones would play in our lives. There is no way he could have known that they would one day be able to teach us new languages, help us stay healthy, and allow us to buy anything we could possibly desire.

5. “I predict that the World Wide Web will go spectacularly big before catastrophically collapsing in 1996” – Robert Metcalfe

It is probably fair to say that the internet didn’t exactly collapse in 1996. However, Ethernet’s co-inventor Robert Metcalfe (pictured above) boldly predicted it would all die out in a magazine column. He promised to consumer his words if his tech predictions for the future did not turn out to be correct. In ’97, at an Internet conference, he delivered on this promise and blended a copy of the article into tiny shreds before consuming it in front of the audience. Today, Metcalfe leads innovations at The University Of Texas’ School Of Engineering – and for their sake we hope he won’t make the same mistake twice.