Predictions gone wrong

Summary:While attending a Red Hat event sometime last month, a video made by the company truly captivated me, and many others in the room.The video did not try to sell Red Hat.

While attending a Red Hat event sometime last month, a video made by the company truly captivated me, and many others in the room.

The video did not try to sell Red Hat. It showed what the open source movement stood for, despite being mocked by some quarters in the software industry.

If history is any indicator, most new inventions go through a phase of ridicule. There were skeptics who claimed that Alexandra Graham Bell's telephone had too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.

In 1899, the U.S. Patent Office commissioner stated that everything that can be invented has been invented. Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb and phonograph, even said the radio craze will die out in no time.

In 1901, Wilbur Wright, one of the Wright brothers who made the first flight on an airplane eventually, said "man would not fly for 50 years", after a disappointing flying experience.

It's not just the famous and influential people who have dismissed man's early inventions. Scientific American, a science and technology magazine, also said in 1909 that the automobile has practically reached its limit of development.

In 1936, the venerable New York Times claimed that a rocket will never leave the Earth's atmosphere.

During information technology's nascent days, IBM's former chairman Thomas Watson in 1943, said: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Ken Olson, founder of now-defunct Digital Equipment Corporation, said in 1977 that "there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home".

Even analyst company Gartner thought Linux was just hype du jour.

In 2001, Bill Gates said Microsoft thinks of Linux as a competitor--but only in the student and hobbyist market, not in the commercial software world.

An about-turn came when Steve Ballmer acknowledged in Sep. 2002 that Linux is a serious competitor and isn't going away.

The video ends aptly with a Mahatma Gandhi quote: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

How sweet.

Topics: Open Source


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 15 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings. Eileen majored i... Full Bio

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