5 Serious Things You Will Totally Laugh at Today

Things important figures like Bill Gates and Thomas Watson (IBM President) have said in the past

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

It sounded so smart then. These were the experts of their time and if you dare say that they were wrong, the world would laugh at you. I find these quotes heartwarming because they remind me of the quote made by experts today and how it can turn out in the near future.

I found these quotes from a totally unrelated book by Joe Sugarman. They constitute something worth thinking about. And I think you deserve to hear them too and get some good laughs.

Without much ado, let’s get the ball rolling:

1. “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

This statement was made by Irving Fisher, a professor of economics at Yale University. Think about all the credibility on the line. And do you know what year this was? The 2000s? The 1980s? The 1950s? Well, all that is wrong. It was in 1929.

You could say that the depression in 1929 made that statement sound witty for a while. But looking back after several decades, it is not just wrong, it is laughable.

Last time I checked, the DOW was over 28,000. That was a fantasy even a few years ago. And I decided to check the highest point of the DOW in 1929. Guess what I found?

C’mon, take a guess…

It is…

381.17

Yes, you read that correctly. Three hundred and eighty-one, point one seven. The “permanently high plateau” of the economics professor at Yale.

If you think that was funny, see next.

2. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

What the heck?! Five computers, world market!

Who said this? You wouldn’t believe it: The President of IBM, Thomas Watson Sr. What year? 1943.

I know 1943 was a kind of year where computers looked like they could only be useful for select sophisticated tasks or perhaps just as a mundane research tool. But this didn’t go down well in history at all.

A few years after those words were uttered, IBM began selling computers with Bill Gates software on it. And we are coming to Bill in a second.

3. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Seriously? No reason anyone would want a computer in their own home? How about in their own pockets? This was said by Ken Olsen, President, chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, in 1977.

This is a Digital Equipment Corporation, literarily. And as of 1977, the kids who would later rule the world of software were already writing programs and codes. So, what later happened to DEC? Here is what I found.

Ken Olsen was forced to resign from the company (that he co-founded) in 1992 after the company had gone into precipitous decline. Those were the words of Wikipedia. I guess the future became unkind to him just as he was to the potentials of the future. The company assets were acquired by Compaq in 1998 and much later some of them got in the custody of HP where it still is today.

4. “Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”

Don’t be deceived by how this sounds. It is just as hilarious as the others. It is saying that advancement in science will bring the weight of computers down to 1.5 tons in the future. Did you read that? “…in the future”. Okay, who said this?

This was quoted by Popular Mechanics magazine forecasting the relentless march of science in 1949. What futuristic year were they talking about? I don’t understand. 1.5 tons is about the weight of an average car. That is 3,000 Pounds. The average weight of a laptop today is what?

Take a guess…

It is…

3.09 Pounds.

If we count a smartphone as a computer, then the weight will be…

0.375 Pounds.

I guess the future is pretty intimidating.

5. “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Who said this? You should be able to guess this right. The incredible Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft. Just in case you are wondering, 640K was 640KB (KB as in Kilobytes). Just one of the pictures on my phone is heavier than that.

This is to tell you that even the great ones make a wrong call. Even though Microsoft was a pioneer in the industry, they missed out on a lot of trends too. They were late into gaming, internet, and social media to name a few.

That statement was made back in 1981. Bill should have known better. I think it was even caught on video. But right now, 640K isn’t useful to anybody. You would even cringe if your phone memory was 640MB. It is Gigabytes or nothing. Bill was wrong and he was proved wrong so fast.

One noticeable thing in all these cases is that those who made the statements didn't enjoy the wave of change that came (unlike how they would have if they have thought differently). Not even Bill Gates (but thank God he had other great calls).

This makes me think about the comments and quotes I see about emerging technologies today. There are a lot of them — bitcoin, AI, self-driving cars and others. Some of those statements may not sound funny now but they are positioned to be in years to come.

Just for laughs, I will make my own statement:

I think that the future generation will laugh at the idea that people once owned cars that they drive themselves around in

The keywords here are ‘owned’, ‘cars’ (plural), and ‘drive themselves around’.

I hope you at least grinned a little :)

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