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University of Hindsight

Misjudgement Society

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University of Hindsight

Misjudgement Society

History is replete with examples of mistakes that, with the benefit of Hindsight, would have been done differently...

 

The Wrong Calls:

William Orton, President of Western Union in 1876 declined to pay $100,000 for Alexander Graham Bell's telephone patent. He declared the apparatus little more than a toy, saying "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." Two years on, an anguished Orton admitted the patent would be a bargain at $25m.

William Preece, British Post Office, 1876: "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."

The Lightbulb Moment:

Thomas Edison, 1889: “Fooling around with alternating current (AC) is just a waste of time.  Nobody will use it, ever.”

The Wrong Track:

President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903: “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.”

The iFad:

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, 2007: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

And there’s more...

​Never say Never:

David Pogue, The New York Times, 2006: "Everyone's always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone.  My answer is, 'Probably never.'" (Actual iPhone release - January 2007)

In it for the long haul:

Steve Chen, YouTube co-founder in 2005 expressed concerns on the platform’s long-term viability: "There's just not that many videos I want to watch."

​Crash & Burn:

Robert Metcalfe, 3Com in 1995 predicted: “The Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse."

Should have gone to SpecSavers:

​Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946: "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."

 

Rocket Man:

​Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General, 1959: "Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles.  We stand on the threshold of rocket mail."

​A-man-a-zoned Out!

Time Magazine, 1966: "Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop.” 

​Of course it's easy to look back on these with Hindsight, it's much harder to tell the future, spot which developments will make a make an seemingly preposterous idea feasible, or which should be consigned to the dustbin !

But we've all probably looked back and wished we could do something different, or know that friend who's come out of the other side maybe a bit worse for wear but hopefully intact.

 

Well you can't change history - but you could have a University of Hindsight Degree on the wall and a Mug on your desk to celebrate....and remind you not to do it again !

Graduates Holding Diplomas

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