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View Full Version : Some foolish forethoughts for the day.....



paladin
11-18-2009, 07:21 AM
Sometimes great minds extend their reach – and look foolish for having done so. William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), president of the Royal Society, predicted in 1894 that radio had no future. Five years later, the first radio factory opened its doors to meet massive demand. He also confidently stated that heavier-than-air flying machines would never work, which was soon followed by Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first flight (which by the way was less than half the distance of the wingspan of a Boeing 747). He also believed X-rays would “prove to be a hoax”. And then there’s Henry Ford II, who just after World War II turned down the offer of obtaining all of Volkswagen including its patents and factory -- for nothing, since he thought it was a bad design. The people who have owned the 21,529,464 units the company would go on to build would no doubt disagree.

Tylerdurden
11-18-2009, 07:29 AM
The most recent one I can think of is "Too big to fail";)

ishmael
11-18-2009, 01:56 PM
Hm. For some reason I thought the Brits were offered VW as a war reparation and turned it down.

The Bigfella
11-18-2009, 02:40 PM
Hm. For some reason I thought the Brits were offered VW as a war reparation and turned it down.

correct


The car and its town changed their Second World War-era names to Volkswagen (meaning peoples car) and Wolfsburg respectively, and production was increasing. It was still unclear what was to become of the factory. It was offered to representatives from the British, American and French motor industries. Famously, all rejected it. After an inspection of the plant Sir William Rootes, head of one of the largest British car companies, told Hirst the project would fail within two years, and that the car "is quite unattractive to the average motorcar buyer, is too ugly and too noisy ... If you think you're going to build cars in this place, you're a bloody fool, young man." Ford representatives agreed: the car was "not worth a damn".

John Smith
11-18-2009, 02:49 PM
I seem to remember the military thinking the airplane didn't offer much potential.

I imagine it was a tough sell when the selectric typewriter moved the typing element, rather than the paper.

I'm not sure how this fits, but there is a group of people who have been, for the last 8 years or so, telling me that our fighting in Afghanistan and Araq has been rendering our enemy far less able to attack us here. Now, these same people are very much afraid that, if we try the 9/11 suspects in NYC, we will be attacked by those very forces.

Is this their way of saying they were wrong in their previous assessments?

mobjack68
11-18-2009, 02:54 PM
pet rocks...

paladin
11-18-2009, 04:56 PM
Yes, but numerous of Edisons inventions were not invented by Edison, he purchased or licensed them and had the true inventors sign statements to to disclose that information for 60 years.....much as Marconi didn't invent the wireless.....it was invented and patented by a dentist, Mahlon Loomis, before the War of Northrun Agression, but the military could see no use for such a thing and he could not convince any commercial user to invest in it....When Marconi built his device, the family of the Loomis sued, and Marconi et al paid royalties to them thereafter.

.....and.....Sam'l Morse didn't invent the Morse code.....

The Bigfella
11-18-2009, 05:26 PM
Yes, but numerous of Edisons inventions were not invented by Edison, he purchased or licensed them and had the true inventors sign statements to to disclose that information for 60 years.....much as Marconi didn't invent the wireless.....it was invented and patented by a dentist, Mahlon Loomis, before the War of Northrun Agression, but the military could see no use for such a thing and he could not convince any commercial user to invest in it....When Marconi built his device, the family of the Loomis sued, and Marconi et al paid royalties to them thereafter.


One could mention Richard Pearse then, given the Wright Bros have been mentioned. Pearse beat them to powered flight.

John Smith
11-18-2009, 05:35 PM
I wouldn't be so tough on old Lord Kelvin. History is littered with brilliant, genius men who had a mix of failures and successes, good judgments and bad ones... but we tend to remember only the good judgments.

Thomas Edison was one of the most prolific inventors ever, with inventions that literally transformed America.... with the exception of the transformer itself :) and his refusal to see Nikolai Tesla's correct observation that AC was a better trasmission medium than DC, at the time.

Steve Jobs was brilliant in his conception of the Apple computer, genius in his adaptation of Xerox's conceptual technology to make the first Macintosh, then had a disaster with the 'Lisa', followed by an even bigger disaster with NeXT.... but bounced back to make Apple a world class product design company with today's Macs.

Ken Olson saw a market opportunity for a 'minicomputer', something conceptually new and very alien to the mainstream computer market, and created the Digital Equipment Corp. to produce the PDP line of minicomputers, which were tremendous market leaders in the 1970's.... yet his inability to see the merits of low cost microcomputers eventually led to the downfall of his company.
Wasn't it Edison who made a statement about failed results are still results; we know thousands of things that don't work?

John Smith
11-18-2009, 05:38 PM
Yes, but numerous of Edisons inventions were not invented by Edison, he purchased or licensed them and had the true inventors sign statements to to disclose that information for 60 years.....much as Marconi didn't invent the wireless.....it was invented and patented by a dentist, Mahlon Loomis, before the War of Northrun Agression, but the military could see no use for such a thing and he could not convince any commercial user to invest in it....When Marconi built his device, the family of the Loomis sued, and Marconi et al paid royalties to them thereafter.
My dad had worked for Edison for a while. We even had some tools in our basement shop that came from Edison's shop.

As my dad explained it, a lot of Edison's inventions came from the minds and labor of people working for him. However, dad also explained, that had Edison not brought all these people and equipment together, these things may not have been invented at all.

Dad went on to other companies, and invented several things, all of which were owned by the company.

seafox
11-18-2009, 10:21 PM
reading a motor car book from 1906 in the preface it said " some people are driving 25 ,30 and even 35 mph but if every one will just stay under 20 mph the goverment won't regulate cars" and the balker motor car company was still trying to popularize its superior steam car when the great depression started in 1929

bobbys
11-18-2009, 10:31 PM
My dad had worked for Edison for a while. We even had some tools in our basement shop that came from Edison's shop.

As my dad explained it, a lot of Edison's inventions came from the minds and labor of people working for him. However, dad also explained, that had Edison not brought all these people and equipment together, these things may not have been invented at all.

Dad went on to other companies, and invented several things, all of which were owned by the company..

I framed houses on land that was part of the estate in East Orange, The main buildings were up the street but i was so tired after work i never saw them.

Bruce Hooke
11-18-2009, 10:46 PM
One of my favorites:


Ours was the first and will doubtless be the last party of whites to visit this profitless locale.

- Lieutenant Joseph Christmas Ives on sailing up the Colorado River to a point near the present location of Las Vegas, in 1857.

Stan D
11-18-2009, 10:57 PM
All this talk of radio reminds me of this;

Einstein, when describing radio said "Wire telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull his tail in NY and he meows in LA. And radio works the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

Keith Wilson
11-18-2009, 11:39 PM
Kelvin did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the age of the sun based on thermodynamics, and calculated that it was most likely it couldn't be over 100 million years old. Here it is, in fact. (http://zapatopi.net/kelvin/papers/on_the_age_of_the_suns_heat.html) Of course, that was before anyone knew about fusion. Brilliant people often have spectacular screwups as well as great successes.


It seems, therefore, on the whole most probable that the sun has not illuminated the earth for 100,000,000 years, and almost certain that he has not done so for 500,000,000 years. As for the future, we may say, with equal certainty, that inhabitants of the earth can not continue to enjoy the light and heat essential to their life for many million years longer unless sources now unknown to us are prepared in the great storehouse of creation.

pefjr
11-18-2009, 11:49 PM
In 1522 the ship Victoria sailed into Spain ,1day missing in the logs, proving the earth round. 300 yrs later The Roman Catholic Church acknowledged the fact.