A View from David Appell

Not What You Thought They Said

USA Today’s Kevin Maney has an interesting piece today about some well-known and oft-repeated technology quotes that he says simply aren’t true. Among those for which he finds no evidence or outright counter-information: “I think there is a world market…

  • July 6, 2005

USA Today’s Kevin Maney has an interesting piece today about some well-known and oft-repeated technology quotes that he says simply aren’t true. Among those for which he finds no evidence or outright counter-information:


  • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, founder of IBM.
  • “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles Duell, U.S. Patent Commissioner, 1899.
  • “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – Harry Warner, Warner Bros., as movies with sound made their debut in 1927.
  • “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, 1981.

There is one well-known quote which it turns out was actually uttered: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., in 1977.

Now, next time you see one of these quotes, probably on somebody’s PowerPoint presentation, you can call ‘em on it!

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.