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Famous(ly) bad technology predictions 

Moneypenny’s CTO, Pete Hanlon, likes to make educated predictions for the year ahead.

Analysing digital trends he’s been seeing all year, and with a frontline view of the innovation businesses like ours are using, he’s usually pretty close to the mark.

Down at the other end of the scale, there are a few famous(ly bad) predictions we’ve been looking back on, and thinking about how different the world would have been it they’d been true.

Here are our top five…


The Telephone

‘The so-called “telephone” has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us’

– an internal memo from Western Union, 1876.

137 years later, the telephone has totally transformed how we communicate, and answering calls and taking enquiries for clients is the basis of what we do here at Moneypenny.



 ‘Everything that could be invented has been invented’

– Charles H. Duell of the US Patents and Brands Office, 1899.

In 2020 alone, 596,175 Utility Patent Applications (Inventions) were submitted in the US. The ongoing innovation of all tech processes means that we can certainly expect a similar number submitted for 2021!



 ‘We do not want now, and we never shall want, the human voice with our films’

– film director DW Griffith, 1924.

Hollywood definitely had other ideas – who doesn’t quote easily from a favourite movie?!


Computer viruses

‘The problem of viruses is temporary and will be solved in two years’

– John McAfee, 1988.

In the same year, Peter Norton described them as an ‘urban legend’. Now there are over 100,000 known computer viruses. In the US, 30 per cent of computers are infected with some form of malware and virus protection is something we’re all well versed in.


The iPhone

‘There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.’

– Steve Ballmer, then the CEO of Microsoft.

Apple now makes US $145 billion a year in revenue on iPhone sales alone and the smart phone market is worth an estimated US $1.2 trillion.

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