University of Hindsight

Misjudgement Society


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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