A selection of sayings concerning the telephone, taken from the mouths of the famous and the not so famous.

"Mr. Watson , come here, I want you"

Alexander Graham Bell (first telephone message); obviously didn't have a good sense of occasion ... or a scriptwriter)

Or what he really said, according to Jack Winslade...

Oh $#!+, *^&$%#$ Watson, come here, throw me a rag, I just spilled this &$%#ing acid all over the &$%#ing place. Owww. ^&$%#. Hurry, this $#!+ is eating the %^#$ out of my &*($^%$^."

You may think the history writers have cleaned it up just a bit. Here's a version of it that appeared in Mad a while back.

Bell: Mr Watson, come here, I want you.
Phone: Boop-boo-beep. We're sorry, you have not reached a working number.


And as glasses have highly promoted our seeing, so 'tis not improbable but that there may  be found many mechanical inventors to improve our senses of hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.   'Tis not impossible to hear a whisper a furlong's distance, it having been already done, and perhaps the nature of the thing would not make it more impossible, though that furlong should be ten times multiplied.   And though some famous authors have affirmed it impossible to hear through the thinnest plate of Muscovy glass, yet I know a way by which it is easy enough to hear one speak through a wall a yard thick.   It has not yet been thoroughly examined how far octocousticons may be improved, nor what other ways there may be of quickening our hearing or conveying sound through other bodies than the air, for that is not the only medium.   I can assure the reader that I have by the help of a distended wire, propagated the sound to a considerable distance in an instant, or with as seemingly quick a motion as that of light, at least, incomparably swifter than that which at the same time was propagated through the air, and this not only in a straight line  or direct, but one  bended  in  many angles.

Taken from the works of Robert Hooke, published in 1664, and quoted in Everybody's Scrap Book of Curious Facts (late 19th century book).

"It is conceivable that cables of telephone wires could be laid underground, or suspended overhead, communicating by branch wires with private dwellings, country houses, shops, manufactories etc., etc., uniting them through the main cable with a central office where wires could be connected as desired establishing direct communication between any two places in the city. Such a plan as this, though impracticable at the present moment will, I firmly believe, be the outcome of the introduction of the telephone to the public. Not only so, but I believe, in the future, wires will unite the head offices of the Telephone Company in different cities, and a man in one part of the country may communicate by word of mouth with another in a distant place. I am aware that such ideas may appear to you Utopian... Believing, however, as I do that such a scheme will be the ultimate result of the telephone to the public, I will impress upon you all the advisability of keeping this end in view, that all present arrangements of the telephone may be eventually realised in this grand system."

Spoken in 1878 by Alexander Graham Bell some two years after he had invented the telephone.


The telephone is so named by its inventor A.G. Bell. He believes that one day  they will be installed in every residence and place of business. Bell's profession is that of a voice teacher. Yet he claims to have discovered an instrument of  great practical value in communication which has been overlooked by thousands of workers who have spent years in the field. Bell's proposals to place his instrument in almost every home and business place is fantastic. The central exchange alone would represent a huge outlay in real estate and buildings, to say nothing of the electrical equipment. In conclusion, the committee feels that it must advise against any investments in Bell's scheme. We do not doubt that it will find users in special circumstances, but any development of the kind and scale which Bell so fondly imagines is utterly out of the question.
From the minutes of the 1876 meeting in which Western Union considered an offer by Bell in which offered all rights to the telephone for sale to Western Union for a mere $100,000. Quoted on page 76 of the book The Telephone and Its Several Inventors by Lewis Coe (1995).

"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 telegraph company memo, 1877.


"I well remember my disgust when someone told me it was possible to send conversation along a wire."


Enos N. Barton, co-founder of the Western Electric company.

"My department is in possession of knowledge of the details of [the telephone], and the possible use of the telephone is limited."

R.S. Culley, Engineer-in-Chief, British Post Office, 1877.

"Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires. Even if it were, it would be of no practical value."

Boston Post, 1865.

"An amazing invention but who would ever want to use one?"

 US President Rutherford B. Hayes, 1876.

"The possibilities of a private home telephone system throughout the country is out of the question. Almost the entire working population of the United States would be needed to switch cable."

unidentified NY telephone financier, 1887.

When news of Alexander Graham Bell's invention reached the United Kingdom, the engineer-in-chief of the British Post Office failed to be impressed. "The Americans," he said loftily, "have need of the telephone—but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys..."

In contrast to the British engineer, the mayor of a certain American town was wildly enthusiastic. He thought that the telephone was a marvellous device and ventured this stunning prediction:
"I can see the time," he said solemnly, "when every city will have one."


"I have a telephone in my office but more for show, as I do not use it."

William Preece, to  a meeting of the Society of Telegraph Engineers, 1879.

There is no doubt that the day will come, maybe when you and I are forgotten, when copper wires, gutta-percha coverings, and iron sheathings will be relegated to the Museum of Antiquities. Then, when a person wants to telegraph to a friend, he knows not where, he will call an electromagnetic voice, which will be heard loud by him who has the electromagnetic ear, but will be silent to everyone else. He will call "Where are you?" and the reply will come, "I am at the bottom of the coal-mine" or "Crossing the Andes" or "In the middle of the Pacific"; or perhaps no reply will come at all, and he may then conclude that his friend is dead.

Professor W.E. Ayrton (member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers) said this at a lecture at the Imperial Institute ...in 1897.

In the much more difficult case of the sub-ocean routes, it may take up to about 20 years to produce [optical fibre] repeaters with long enough average lives to give complete cables 5,000km long that will operate without maintenance for an average period of 20 years—but it can be and certainly will be done."

Alec Reeves of STC Ltd, 1969

Mr W.E. Irish of Sunderland has been trying his hand at an invention to automatically record the telephonic sounds as ordinarily transmitted by these instruments. It is doubtful if such a record is of much value.

The Electrician, (London), 30th August 1884 (page 357).

"The apparatus used, especially in exchanges, has to a large extent now become standardised, so whilst in the future there will be, no doubt many improvements, those made will, it is believed, more likely be in connection with smaller details than with general principles, unless some very great advance in automatic exchange working should lead to its general adoption, which in the opinion of the writer, is not considered very likely."

Joseph Poole, Technical Staff, Head Office, National Telephone Company Ltd, writing in 1910 in the preface to fourth edition of The Practical Telephone Handbook and Guide to the Telephonic Exchange.

“Automatic working is not adapted to our needs, any more than radiography will ever supplant telegraphy by wires.”

The President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (1918); he did not believe that automatic working would ever replace the manual system.

"700 million telephone lines were installed in the first 100 years of telecomms; 700 million more will be installed over the next 15-20 years."

Ben Verwayen, Lucent Technologies (1998).

"It (the telephone) will unmake our work. No greater instrument of counter revolution and conspiracy can be imagined"

Josef Vissarvonovich Stalin.

"Hello, Neil and Buzz. I'm talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House, and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made"

Richard Milhouse Nixon, 20 July 1969, speaking to first men to land on the moon.

"Do you know who I've always depended on?. Not strangers, not friends. The telephone. That's my best friend."

Marilyn Monroe.

[picks up phone, not-ringing]
"Hello! What! Yes!" [hangs up phone]

Eric Morecambe, The Morecambe and Wise Show.
(I think you have to see the show).

"They (wives) are people who think when the telephone bell rings, it is against the law not to answer it"

Ring Lardner, 1923

"La servitude. C'est ca, le téléphone. Il sonne: tu accours. Ou bien tu n'accours pas, mais tu te ronges les sangs de regret ou de curiosité insatisfaite."

Gabrielle Roy.

"Le téléphone ne convient pas aux amoureux! Dans leurs conversations c'est le regard qui joue le rôle principal."

Robert Hollier.

"You cannot settle the problems of Europe by long-distance telephone calls and telegrams. Round the table we must get... "

Ernest Bevin 1945.

"Well if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?"

James Thurber.

"The FTS2000 10-digit number will match the commercial number. In other words, your FTS2000 number will be the same as your commercial number.

a USA-CERL bulletin on updates to the Federal phone system (USA-CERL is the Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Labs)

"Communism must be like one big phone company."

Lenny Bruce, as quoted on All Things Considered, 10/8/91.

According to Judge Greene, "Despite AT&T's argument that Bell Labs was [a] leader in invention and innovation, and despite excellence and 'scientific genius' of the Labs, they have produced few products of practical value."

"It is my heart-warm and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us—the high, the low, the rich , the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage—may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss—except the inventor of the telephone."

Mark Twain, 1890.

"Operator: "Are you having trouble with an operator in Virginia?"
"Frank: "I'm having trouble with the tephone cumpny, PERIOD!"

Fun button badge: "I don't mind being in touch with reality, so long as I don't have to pay the phone bill."

Automatic calling unit - teenager with a telephone

Data communications glossary.

Hollerith - what thou doest when thy phone is on the fritzeth.

Data communications glossary

"One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone."

"My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a producer."

Cole Porter

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."

"As you know, birds do not have sexual organs because they would interfere with flight. [In fact, this was the big breakthrough for the Wright Brothers. They were watching birds one day, trying to figure out how to get their crude machine to fly, when suddenly it dawned on Wilbur. "Orville," he said, "all we have to do is remove the sexual organs!" You should have seen their original design.] As a result, birds are very, very difficult to arouse sexually. You almost never see an aroused bird. So when they want to reproduce, birds fly up and stand on telephone lines, where they monitor telephone conversations with their feet. When they find a conversation in which people are talking dirty, they grip the line very tightly until they are both highly aroused, at which point the female gets pregnant."

Dave Barry, Sex and the Single Amoeba: What Every Teen Should Know.

"Ask not for whom the telephone bell tolls... if thou art in the bathtub, it tolls for thee."
"Atlanta makes it against the law to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp."
"For three days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off."

Johnny Carson.

"People who are funny and smart and return phone calls get much better press than people who are just funny and smart."

Howard Simons, The Washington Post".

"Real Users know your home telephone number."

"Telephone, n.:

An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance."

Ambrose Bierce.

To the habitual reader, reading is a drug of which he is the slave; deprive him of printed matter and he grows nervous, moody, and restless; then, like the alcoholic bereft of brandy who will drink shellac or methylated spirit, he will make do with the advertisements of a paper five years old; he will make do with a telephone directory.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Bum.

"Now, telephone companies are not stupid, at least for large values of 'stupid'."

Michael O'Brien (Mr. Protocol).

TELESCOPE, n. A device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. Luckily it is unprovided with a bell summoning us to the sacrifice.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), The Devil's Dictionary, 1911.

"The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink."

Fran Lebowitz.

"There were in this country two very large monopolies. The larger of the two had the following record: the Vietnam War, Watergate, double-digit inflation, fuel and energy shortages, bankrupt airlines, and the 8-cent postcard. The second was responsible for such things as the transistor, the solar cell, lasers, synthetic crystals, high fidelity stereo recording, sound motion pictures, radio astronomy, negative feedback, magnetic tape, magnetic "bubbles", electronic switching systems, microwave radio and TV relay systems, information theory, the first electrical digital computer, and the first communications satellite. Guess which one got to tell the other how to run the telephone business?"

"To understand this important story, you have to understand how the telephone company works. Your telephone is connected to a local computer, which is in turn connected to a regional computer, which is in turn connected to a loudspeaker the size of a garbage truck on the lawn of Edna A. Bargewater of Lawrence, Kan."

"Whenever you talk on the phone, your local computer listens in. If it suspects you're going to discuss an intimate topic, it notifies the computer above it, which listens in and decides whether to alert the one above it, until finally, if you really humiliate yourself, maybe break down in tears and tell your closest friend about a sordid incident from your past involving a seedy motel, a neighbor's spouse, an entire religious order, a garden hose and six quarts of tapioca pudding, the top computer feeds your conversation into Edna's loudspeaker, and she and her friends come out on the porch to listen and drink gin and laugh themselves silly."

Dave Barry, Won't It Be Just Great Owning Our Own Phones?

"Here at the Phone Company, we serve all kinds of people; from Presidents and Kings to the scum of the earth..."

Lily Tomlin

"In recognizing AT&T Bell Laboratories for corporate innovation, for its invention of cellular mobile communications, IEEE President Russell C. Drew referred to the cellular telephone as a "basic necessity." How times have changed, one observer remarked: many in the room recalled the advent of direct dialing."

The Institute, July 1988, pg. 11

"I once met a lassie named Ruth
In a long distance telephone booth.
Now I know the perfection
Of an ideal connection
Even if somewhat uncouth."

"I'm too shy to express my sexual needs except over the phone to people I don't know."

Gary Shandling

"Maybe Hamton's right. Maybe Buster is shy about inviting me to the prom. Maybe he's waiting until the last minute to call me. Maybe I should run home right now and sit by the phone like a drooling maniac so I don't miss his call! No, I'm way too cool for that. BUT I CAN'T TAKE THAT CHANCE!!!"

Babs Bunny

[ring ring] "Hello?"
"Hello, Babs. This is the President of the United States."
"Get off the line, Mac! I'm waiting for an important call!!!!"

Babs & George Bush

"If you want to understand your government, don't begin by reading the Constitution. (It conveys precious little of the flavor of today's statecraft.) Instead, read selected portions of the Washington telephone directory containing listings for all the organizations with titles beginning with the word "National."

George Will.

"Last Words of Advice: If you pay your taxes and don't get into debt and go to bed early and never answer the telephone—no harm can befall you."

Professor Charles P. Issawi

Parkinson's Telephone Law: The effectiveness of a telephone conversation is in inverse proportion to the time spent on it.

"The honeymoon is over when he phones that he'll be late for supper—and she has already left a note that it's in the refrigerator."

Bill Laurence.

"The phone will not ring until you leave your desk and walk to the other end of the building."

Linda A. Lawyer.

"Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three—and paradise is when you have none."

Doug Larson.

Thoughts on Programming, Number 41:

I know it. I know what needs to be done - but every time I try to tackle a technical problem, some bloody fool wants me to make a decision about trucks – or telephones – or some damn thing.

Robert Heinlein, The Man Who Sold the Moon.

"Just for today": I'll do something I have been putting off for a long time. I finally write that letter, make that phone call, clean out that closet or desk or straighten out those drawers.

Abigail van Buren (a.k.a. "Dear Abby")
from the annual The New Years Resolutions List.

"Where is it somewhere embedded in the Constitution that the price of local telephone service should never be greater than the price of a big pizza?"

Prof. Alfred Kahn, ex-New York Public Service Commission & ex-CAB chief. (found in Teleconnect, 2/88, p. 154)

"I can direct dial today a man my parents warred with. They wanted to kill him, I want to sell software to him."

Brad Templeton

"So many people have written to complain about the telephone service that the Post Office is actually going to show a profit this year."

The Two Ronnies, BBC-TV
(back in the days when the Post Office also ran Britain’s telephone service).

"Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition."

Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1962.

Mobile phone giant Nokia is angry that their new simplified handset has been dubbed a ‘bimbophone’ by industry pundits. Spokesman Lars Bjarnemark says the phone isn't designed just for dumb blondes: "That's not what we're saying. They're not interested in the extra features so why sell them?" he asked. Then who is the new ‘rinGo’ designed for? It is "aimed at women, young families, students and pensioners," he said. "Our market research shows that there are quite a number of groups that have refrained from buying a phone because [the] digital technology is too complicated for them."


Here's proof that telecomms didn't start with the telephone:

"3rd June 1778. Did this day heliograph intelligence from Dr.Franklin in Paris to Wycombe."

John Norris, artist and inventor, of Hawley Park, Camberley, Surrey. (Benjamin Franklin was at this time working as a secret agent for the British. The ‘intelligence’ referred to was of a military nature.)

"The great advantage [the telephone] possesses over every other form of electrical apparatus consists in the fact that it requires no skill to operate the instrument."

A.G. Bell, 1878.

"Probably many places in the United States never will have the dial system. It is most needed in large cities where many calls are crowded into small areas."

National Geographic magazine, October 1937.

"In planning the introduction of STD, the opportunity has been taken to examine many of the traditional aspects of the service to ensure that the needs of a fully automatic service will be met in the most satisfactory and economic manner. A national numbering system has been produced which can be applied with the minimum of change to the existing service and which should meet the needs of the country for at least the next 100 years."

The General Plan for Subscriber Trunk Dialling, H.E.Francis,
Post Office Electrical Engineers Journal, January 1959.

Bell expects that the public will use his instrument without the aid of trained operators. Any telegraph engineer will at once see the fallacy of this plan. The public simply cannot be trusted to handle technical communications equipment. Bell's instrument uses nothing but the voice, which cannot be captured in concrete form… we leave it to you to judge whether any sensible man would transact his affairs by such a means of communications. In conclusion the committee feels that it must advise against any investment whatever in Bell's scheme.

Minutes of a Western Union telegraph company meeting, circa 1880.

"The telephone business is notorious for using different words to indicate the same thing, and the same words to indicate different things. The merging of computer and telecom technologies is making it even worse."

Michael N. Marcus, 1996, from http://www.ablecomm.com/terms.htm

"The FCC and phone companies have codes to identify how jacks are wired. A single-line jack designed for mounting a wall phone is an RJ-11W. A single-line jack for a table or desk phone is an RJ-11C. Two-line jacks are RJ-14W and RJ-14C. Three-line jacks are RJ-25. If you know that much, you know more than many phone company employees. Four-line jacks are RJ-61. If you know that, you know more than all phone company employees. "RJ" stands for Registered Jack. "W" stands for Wall. Apparently only one person knew what the "C" stood for, and he died without telling anyone."

from http://www.ablecomm.com/wiring.htm

"We have gone from a world of concentrated knowledge and wisdom to one of distributed ignorance.  And we know and understand less while being increasingly capable."                         

Prof. Peter Cochrane, when still employed at BT Laboratories.

"Chimpanzees have the  same fascination with  equipment that children do.  They are intrigued by the  different noises the phones  make, and the fact that they light up when the buttons are pressed."

Dr Hannah Buchanan-Smith, an animal behaviourist at Stirling University, on Chippy, the chimp at Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirling, who stole a mobile  phone and called his wardens. 

Reported in Computer Reseller News, 6th August 2001.

Birds answer  mobile phones

British birds have begun singing tunes picked up from mobile ringtones as part of a bizarre mating ritual, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of  Birds. The   starling—a relation of the mynah bird and the 'most adept at mimicry'—is leading the chorus. Other love birds prone to covering other people's songs include the song thrush, the blackbird and the  marsh warbler. The Danish  Ornithological Society has  received similar reports, and the  topic made the Danish TV news  last week.

[Daily Telegraph, reported in Mobile magazine 25th May 2001]

'Marplisms' spoken by Postmaster General Ernest Marples at the opening of STD, Bristol on 5th December 1958.  

It is essential to cut the duration of the local call. The more I can do this the more popular I shall become, which is every politician's dream.  

There's no civilised country in the world which uses the telephone less than Britain.  

I have set my face against any single member of the staff getting a raw deal through mechanisation as long as I am at the Post Office.  

We have 65,000 telephone kiosks and they are losing £3,000,000 a year [that's £3 million in 1958 money!]  

I demonstrated in London that it was possible to call Glasgow for 2d. If you'd seen the girl at the other end you'd have said it was worth it. [????]


Bad Victorian poetry!

"Across the wire the message came

He is no better, he is much the same."


Alfred Austin, Queen Victoria's Poet Laureate, on the pneumonia suffered by the Prince of Wales.


Famous Last Words
(unable to comment on the authenticity of these!)
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."

Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."

The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall,


"But what ... is it good for?"

Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM,
1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

Ken Olson, president, chairman & founder of Digital Equipment Co, 1977

"The telephone will be used to inform people that a telegram has been sent."

Alexander Graham Bell.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."

A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."

Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the
leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."

Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."

Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Can't dance. Can't act. Can sing a little."

Notes from Fred Astaire's screen test.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."

Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."

Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3M "Post-It" Pads

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us ? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come to work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"

Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."

Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."

Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives."

Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project.

"This fellow Charles Lindbergh will never make it. He's doomed."

Harry Guggenheim, millionaire aviation enthusiast.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."

Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."

Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances."

Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the vacuum tube.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".

Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon".

Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon,
appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one."

Dr. W.C. Heuper of the National Cancer Institute, as quoted in the New York Times on April 14, 1954.

"For the majority of people, smoking has a beneficial effect."

Dr. Ian G. Macdonald, Los Angeles surgeon, quoted in Newsweek, Nov. 8th 1963.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."

Bill Gates, 1981.

"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."

Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc., 1989.  

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."

  Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize physicist, 1923.

"A rocket will never be able to leave the earth's atmosphere."

  The New York Times, 1936.

"Television won't last because people will get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."

  Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox co-founder, 1946.

"The main result of all these developments will be to eliminate 99 per cent of human activity, and to leave our descendants faced with a future of utter boredom, where the main problem in life is deciding which of the several hundred TV channels to select."

  Arthur C Clarke. The World of 2001, 1968.

"By the year 2000, we will undoubtedly have a sizeable operation on the moon ; we will have achieved a manned Mars landing and it's entirely possible we will have flown with men to the outer planets."

Wernher von Braun, NASA rocket engineer, 1969.

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