You’ve Got (Spam) Mail
In 2004, Bill Gates famously declared that “two years from now, spam will be solved.” Well, cut to 2022 and it seems that spam still very much exists.
In reality, spamming is an even bigger problem nowadays — companies are able to obtain user data easily, and customers need to sign up with their email for everything. It seems that trends may come and go, but spam is forever.
The Cuckoo’s Tale
American astronomer and author of the acclaimed novel The Cuckoo’s Egg, Clifford Stoll, once stated that he doesn’t “believe that phone books, newspapers, magazines, or corner video stores will disappear as computer networks spread.”
While you might still find these things in small towns and cities, they have more or less disappeared. Instead, streaming sites and Google have largely replaced these communication mediums.
Ball in the Wrong Net
Today, there are various filters and apps that show us how we might look in 30 years, all by aging a photo that you already have. But once upon a time, it was magazines that started this trend. Apparently, FourFourTwo magazine got it all wrong!
In 1998, they predicted that footballer David Beckham would lose most of his good looks by 2020. Suffice to say, the 47-year-old legend looks as good as he did two decades ago — even better, actually!
Humans aren’t perfect creatures, and that’s okay. Even Nobel Prize winners make mistakes. Still, we’re sure Paul Krugman is kicking himself over the wildly inaccurate prediction he made back in 1998, considering that the internet has basically taken the world by storm.
With social media platforms and apps — like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter — users can connect with people from all over the globe. So, while most people may not always have valuable things to say to each other, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped talking or posting!
No Blooms for Potter
When Barry Cunningham told J. K. Rowling that she’d never make money off her children’s books in 1996, he didn’t know that he would be one day eating his own words — on an international scale. Thankfully, Bloomsbury Books ended up publishing the books despite Cunningham’s doubt and it’s safe to say that the publishing house is all the better for it.
The Harry Potter series spurred films, companion books, merchandise, Harry Potter-themed areas in Disney World, and more. Today, no matter what generation you belong to, you’ve heard the name at least once.
Gateway to Fake News
Bill Gates might have been one of the people who made computers what they are today, but like every other human, this genius has also made some pretty inaccurate predictions.
In 1996, Bill Gates disapproved of author Terry Pratchett’s theory of how the internet would one day be responsible for spreading fake news. As we’ve all experienced, though, Pratchett’s theory is one of the biggest drawbacks of the internet and the news found online.
No Privacy Please!
Privacy has become a joke in today’s digital age. Aside from the fact that we’re very quick to provide websites and social platforms with our personal information, our phones also listen to our every word. Have you ever scrolled through Instagram when you’ve noticed an ad for a product that you had just been telling your friend about? Sorry to break it to you, but that’s no coincidence.
Clifford Stoll had a little more faith in humanity and believed that one’s privacy would always be protected. He also believed that the cost of getting information would be very high. Well, we all know that’s not the case anymore.
At the turn of the century, Daily Mail printed a piece in its newspaper, denouncing the internet and stating that it may be a passing fad for the general populace.
Ironically, the publication has a huge internet presence today, owning everything from a website to a flourishing Instagram account. To be fair, not many people foresaw the scope of the World Wide Web and how one day, it would become as dominant as it is.
Erik Sandburg-Diment was a well-known name in the tech world during the ’80s. The software and tech columnist was a regular writer for The New York Times. However, a lot of his articles have come back from the archives to be examined by the netizens of today.
One of the writer’s predictions was that no matter how cheap machinery becomes, it would never become a part of a calming experience like fishing. Well, we all know how wrong that one was considering that almost every individual nowadays has a smartphone attached to their hip.
Even the people responsible for bringing about change in the technological world have made mistakes when making predictions about where it’s going.
Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, infamously said that the idea of a personal communicator device in every pocket is a “pipe dream driven by greed.” This statement, made in 1992, turned out to be far from the reality we know today.
There are some people who believe that humanity is an endless pit of selflessness and goodness. For those people, the internet held up a mirror and said, “That’s just not true.”
One such person was internet expert John Allen, who predicted that the internet would be a singularly good place — as people’s “moral code and internal rules would stop people from doing horrible things online.” Sadly, this isn’t true — and for every good internet user, there’s a cyberbully who’s looking to spread toxicity. Let’s put a stop to cyberbullying!
Shop Till You Drop!
It turns out that astronomer Clifford Stoll was wrong about many things regarding the internet, but no prediction of his was as wrong as the one he made about online shopping. In a nutshell, he called it a dead end.
Today, people would rather invest in an online store than head to a shopping mall. Humans are turning towards online shopping more and more these days, and this phenomenon was only magnified during the pandemic.
In 1999, a German publication made a prediction that space would be a fully functional colony by 2010, with high-rise buildings and humans traveling using a jetpack. Looks like The Jetsons was more influential than the makers imagined it to be.
Since we’re all still very much on the ground, suffice to say that it hasn’t happened. However, humans are very close to space tourism becoming a possibility. So, who knows — maybe by the next century, there might actually be people living in space.
An Apple a Day
In 1996, Wired Magazine raised its doubts and outright challenged Apple regarding its hardware, stating that the brand was out of the game and couldn’t compete with the other gadget makers. Cut to 2022, Apple is the leading technological brand that has revolutionized the way the world looks at gadgets.
The iPod changed the way we listen to music forever. After all, who can ever forget the iconic moment when Steve Jobs pulled the iPod out of his pocket and turned the entire industry on its head?!
The idea of clones has been around for a very long time, thanks to sci-fi movies and books. And many people have bought into the idea of it.
Writer Amy Tao of Amarillo Daily News made a prediction in 1998 that cloning humans and animals would be commonplace by the year 2018. Even though science has made immense progress, human cloning is still possible only in fiction.
More Than a Century
The progress made in the medical and scientific field has certainly raised the life expectancy of people by a lot, but we still haven’t been able to reach the prediction of futurist Ray Kurzweil — who predicted that, by 2019, we’d all be able to live over a hundred.
The health bug has bitten everybody, and people are opting to eat cleaner and healthier than ever. But, there are also many more burger places on every corner so, life expectancy after the next 30 years can go either way.
An Amazonian Opinion
Apple wasn’t always as smooth sailing as it is today. The company started off strong, but soon fizzled out in the late ’90s, before becoming what it is today.
Billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos prematurely stated that the story of Apple Computers was an American tragedy, amongst other things. Today, not only is the brand a visionary in and of itself — but it’s also the first thing that pops up when you Google Apple instead of the fruit. Talk about domination.
Public figures, especially when representing a country, should refrain from making extremely opinionated statements. For instance, take this one prediction made by Ines Uusuman, the Swedish Minister of Communications.
According to her, the internet was just a temporary fad and wouldn’t last long in the world. To be fair to Uusuman, she wasn’t the first or the last person to cast apprehensions about the World Wide Web in the late ‘90s.
The Future Times of LA
In 1988, the Los Angeles Times magazine published a special prediction issue where they wrote about what life would be like in 25 years’ time.
According to the publication, housing would be scarce. They also stated that money would have barcodes in it to avoid corruption and crime. In today’s world, not only is corruption rampant, but there’s also a surplus of empty houses. There’s no money to buy them, though.
Horses Over Cars
Cars are an invention that may seem commonplace to today’s generation, but just about a century ago, it was still a doubtful idea.
In 1903, the President of Michigan Savings Bank warned Henry Ford’s lawyer that putting money in cars was a waste — and that horses were the answer to the future. Today, cars are for day-to-day use and horses are the exception.
The House of Music
We can all be thankful that John Philip Sousa’s 1906 prediction about music turned out to be wrong. According to the composer, the fact that machines were invented to play music in people’s homes was terrible.
He believed that this would lead to a loss of musical ability, as people would be able to listen to music without having to learn to play. However, the opposite has turned out to be true considering that more and more and more musical people have emerged over the years.
The Unpredicted Spark
Banker JP Morgan is a well-known figure in history — not just in the world of finance but also in science as he invested heavily in Edison’s dreams of electricity. In fact, he financed General Electricity.
However, none of this would have come to play if Morgan had listened to his father, esteemed banker Junius Morgan, who was doubtful about the bulb and its power to give the world light, even going as far as to call it a fad.
In 1950, Dorothy Roe — a writer for Associated Press — claimed that based on scientific evidence, all women would be six feet tall by the year 2000. 22 years late and we can safely say that she was wrong.
Roe’s claims were based on the assumption that the Amazonian proportions of the women will be a result of the perfect balance of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Women, as compared to 1950, are taller on average today… but they’re far from achieving the six feet average.
Every person alive in the ‘90s knows about Y2K, a.k.a. Year 2000 bug or Millennium Bug — a problem in the coding of computerized systems that was projected to create havoc in computers and computer networks around the world at the beginning of the year 2000. However, there was no massive computer glitch on January 1st, 2000.
Still, the entire thought caused mass hysteria in the US. Two decades later, the Y2K era has become a running joke, as people remember those who took the prediction way too seriously, in that they made shelters and stocked up on supplies.
The Great Debate
Offline versus online shopping is a debate that never gets old, but over time, the points have racked up pretty high in online shopping’s favor.
Not everybody was always such a believer in this, though. In 1966, Times made a prediction that remote shopping would flop, as women like to venture out in the name of shopping and actually feel the merchandise before buying. We can all hear Mr. Bezos laughing all the way to the bank as we write this.
The End of the World
2012 was a year of delights — the Olympics were hosted in the UK, plus the world got both The Avengers and The Dark Knight. But, it was also the year of chaos due to a prediction.
According to the Mayan calendar, December 21st, 2012 was the end of the first great cycle, which the world believed to be the end of the calendar and the world itself. There was even a movie titled 2012 that featured an apocalypse descending the world.
Comet and Get it
Today, Halley’s Comet is a phenomenon that people make an entire event of. People throw parties and get together to see the magic once every 76 years approximately.
But in 1910, the nearness of the comet created panic amongst the citizens, many of whom made predictions that it would destroy the planet. Headlines turned morbid, and people went into full savior mode, with some people in Oklahoma even making sacrifices to stop it.
The Downfall of the Wall
Stocks are a brave man’s game. Irving Fisher, a noted 20th-century economist, made many important additions to his field like the Fisher equation. But, one prediction destroyed his credibility entirely.
Just days before the Wall Street crash of 1929, Fisher claimed that the stocks were at an all-time high. After the crash, he tried to save face by backtracking but by then the damage had already been done — to his reputation and the market.
On the Small Screen
It’s impossible to imagine life without televisions in today’s world, but in 1946, people had very little faith in the small box.
Studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck was especially vocal in his apprehensions, predicting that TVs won’t be able to hold onto the market after the first six months. Thankfully, his words turned out to be wrong and television continued to flourish to a point that today, we basically travel with a TV in our pocket!
When you look back upon them, some predictions seem downright bizarre, like the one made by Arthur Summerfield in 1959. The US Postmaster General is famous for stating that soon, mail would be delivered by guided rockets.
The US Post Office did indeed test Rocket Mail the same year as the statement but sadly, it was the first and the last of it. The world never saw rocket mail deliveries, and we are still making do with good old delivery men and women at our doorstep.
Everybody made predictions about the internet during the late ‘90s. But, nobody owned up to their mistakes as memorably as Robert Metcalfe did. The technological genius infamously stated in a magazine back in 1955 that the internet would soon collapse catastrophically in 1996.
He also promised to eat his words if he was wrong. When he was proven wrong in 1997, he proceeded to stay true to his words. During his keynote speech at the WWW International Conference, he blended the page of the magazine with the quote and ate it in front of a live audience!
Not an Unsinkable
We all know about the tragedy that was the Titanic, all thanks to James Cameron. But, the luxury passenger ship actually had a lot of promise before it sank. The ship’s captain, Edward J. Smith, had so much faith in his ship that he even revealed he couldn’t fathom any disaster befalling the vessel.
President Phillip Franklin of White Star Line, the company that produced the Titanic, boasted that the ship was unsinkable. Well, sadly, we all know how that turned out…
No Bets on the Beatles
The Beatles weren’t always as popular as they were in the ’60s — and even today! Though the band has since achieved iconic fame, the boys’ music was bad-mouthed a lot before it found success.
Music Director of The Ed Sullivan Show, Ray Bloch, stated that he gave the band a year tops. Decca Records rejected them and National Review founder William F. Buckler described their music as unbelievably horrible. To those who didn’t understand the magic back in the day, all we can say is “let it be…”
Elon Musk is a huge Mars fan today, but even in the ‘90s, a lot of people dreamt of setting foot on the planet. In 1996, the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council claimed that NASA would make it possible for humans to land on Mars by 2018.
Though we haven’t managed to quite set foot on the red planet, we’ve landed eight unmanned spacecraft on its surface.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil was another man who predicted that the paper book industry would be dead by the end of the 20th century, as everything of importance will be scanned.
Even though there has been a decline in the revenue of the book publishing industry since 2014, the US still saw a sale of nearly 675 million books in 2018. With such high numbers, we don’t see the paper book industry completely going out of business anytime soon.
Apple first burst into the scene with their computers. It was more than a decade later that they launched their trailblazing iPhones. However, not everybody was convinced that a computer company could successfully launch a phone.
David Pogue of The New York Times wrote an article in 2006, in which he stated that the company would probably never come out with a cell phone. Barely a year later, Apple proved him wrong by launching its first iPhone. Since then, it has sold more than two billion handsets worldwide.
Twitter didn’t always have the reputation of being the hotspot for debates. Once upon a time, it was considered to be a tool for illiterates by acclaimed science fiction writer Bruce Sterling.
In 2006, The New York Times journalist proclaimed that Twitter didn’t have the scope to be a place where intellectuals would flock to. Now, only if he could say the same in 280 characters or less, the most intelligent of the netizens might actually come to fight back.
Phone a Complaint
It seems that even inventors have little to no faith in their inventions sometimes. Like Marty Cooper, who’s credited with inventing the cell phones, but has made a statement talking about his doubt.
Cooper stated that cell phones would never replace local wire systems, as they could never be cheap enough! Today, almost everybody has one in their pockets and with technology being what it is, there’s a price range that suits everybody — from a pauper to a prince.
Copies of Doubts
In 1959, IBM commented told the founders of Xerox that photocopying has no long-term market scope, hence there was no reason for production on a large scale. According to IBM, the potential was only for 5,000 machines in the entire world.
Xerox, in actuality, went on to become synonymous with photocopying, and its name has since spread to all corners of the world. Ironically enough, IBM joined the photocopying game themselves soon after.
The Channel Dilemma
The Chairman of Viacom and CBS didn’t doubt the television, but he was skeptical of how far its reach could spread. In 1994, Sumner Redstone made a prediction that there would never be as many as 500 channels available for surfing.
Redstone’s words, of course, haven’t turned out to be true as we are surrounded by so much content. He probably didn’t take into account how even the sky is no longer the limit for humans.
Archeologists Find Burial Site of a Woman Who May Have Ruled Spain
Archeologists were stunned when they re-examined an old excavation site in Spain known as La Almoloya and discovered a lavish burial site of an elite woman who might have been a queen during the early Bronze Age.
The Burial Site Dates Back to the Early Bronze Age
Since its discovery, many archeologists claim this burial site to be one of the most lavish of its time. There were two sets of remains inside the pit. The first belonged to a woman who was buried wearing a silver diadem, silver rings, beaded necklaces, bracelets, spiral hairpieces, and other ornaments. She must have been between 25 and 30 years old when she died. The man next to her was about ten years older and had died a few years before her. They weren’t biologically related and both had died in the mid-17th century B.C..
These details matter to archeologists because if he was the king, why wasn’t he buried as opulently as her? The fact that she was more celebrated in her death and managed to keep her elite position years after her husband’s death, leads scientists to speculate that the woman had power of her own. Given that her burial site was in the middle of the ruins of a Bronze Age village, it seems like a plausible theory.
The Silver Diadem
The silver diadem found in the burial is one of just six discovered from Bronze Age Spain. These types of diadems are often related to symbols of rank and power as they were worn by leaders. This particular type of diadem can be worn both facing downward (as it was found on the woman) and upward (like it has been discovered in other burial sites). Archeologists theorize that the woman looking at you through such a silver diadem “must have been quite somebody.”
It’s easy to make a prediction, but that doesn’t mean it’ll turn out to be true. Our daily predictions might disappear with time, but some people and their words have been etched in history forever. Bold statements about things like the internet and the television made by the likes of Bill Gates and The New York Times, we’ve compiled 40+ such predictions that totally missed the mark.