Thar she blows, Gates

November 18, 1998

The Chicago Tribune said in an editorial Monday:

IT'S TOO soon to know how the government's historic antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp. will play out, but those who treasure memorable -- and deliciously wrong -- predictions already have won.

"This antitrust thing will blow over," Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates allegedly told executives from Intel Co. in July 1995, according to notes introduced at trial by the government.

L Maybe he meant "blow over" like Hurricane Mitch in Honduras.

This brings to mind other notable incorrect predictions made by otherwise sane and bright folks -- something we here at the Chicago Tribune and President Dewey know something about as a result of that little headline mishap in 1948.

Prior to World War I, a French military strategist advised the Army that "airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."

IBM founder and chairman Thomas Watson back in 1943 predicted a worldwide need for "maybe five computers."

Quoting from an internal Western Union memo in 1876: "This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."

FTC "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" asked a perturbed Harry Warner, one of the Warner Bros., in 1927.

"There is no reason for any individuals to have a computer in their home." That was Ken Olsen, founder, president and chairman of Digital Equipment Corp., in 1977.

"Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high ** plateau," opined Yale economist Irving Fisher in 1929.

A banker in Michigan advised Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the then-fledgling Ford Motor Co., saying, "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty -- a fad."

Pub Date: 11/18/98

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