The Evils of Technology

Here are a few quotations I've rounded up from nineteenth-century personalities or companies who decried 'faddish' technology and knew for sure that it would never take off. They remind me of myself about ten years ago when I saw a prototype e-reader and thought it was a laughable endeavor that surely NO ONE would ever want. Ahh, hindsight.

1.) "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
-Western Union, internal memo, 1876.

2.) "Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
-Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830.

3.) "No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour [by train] when he can ride his horse there in one day for free."
-King William I of Prussia, 1864.

4.) "X-rays will prove to be a hoax."
-Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

5.) "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."
-Henry Morton, president of Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's lightbulb, 1880.

6.) "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty–a fad."
-The president of the Michigan Savings Bank, advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

7.) "No, it will make war impossible."
-Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, in response to the question "Will this gun not make war more terrible?" from Havelock Ellis, an English scientist, 1893.

8.) "How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense."
-Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton's steamboat, early 1800s.

9.) "I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea."
-H.G. Wells, 1901

10.) "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."
-Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

11.) "When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it."
-Oxford Professor Erasmus Wilson, 1878.

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One Response to The Evils of Technology

  1. Pingback: BizarreVictoria: Celebrating 3 Years | BizarreVictoria

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