Cloudy Crystal Ball: 16 Predictions That Didn't Quite Come True | Almanac.com

Cloudy Crystal Ball: 16 Predictions That Didn't Quite Come True

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Predicting the future is easy. The hard part is getting it right, as the following predictions clearly show.


“I will never marry again.”

-Barbara Hutton, 1941

Hutton would subsequently be married five more times.


“The bullet hasn’t been made that can kill me.”

–Jack “Legs” Diamond, 1929.

He was shot dead 2 years later.


“There is not doubt that [Adolf Hitler] has become more thoughtful during his imprisonment … and does not contemplate acting against existing authority.”

–Otto Leybold, warden of Landsberg Prison, in which Hitler served time as a young man, September 1924


“I am finished.”

–Winston Churchill, after being replaced as First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I, 1915


“The thought of being president frightens me. I do not think I want the job.”

–Ronald Reagan, 1973

Hail to the Chief, Mr. President.


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

–Dr. Ian G. Macdonald, 1963

Sure …


“Computers, in the future, may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”

–Popular Mechanics, forecasting “the relentless march of science” in 1949

The Michigan Micro Mote at the University of Michigan, the world’s smallest computer, fits on the edge of a dime (and I would wager weights a little less than 1.5 tons).


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

–Ken Olson, president, chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., in 1977

Tell that to the 83.3% of American households who owned a computer in 2013, according to the US Census Bureau.


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

–Western Union internal memo, written in 1876

It would appear that only 2.4% of Americans would agree with you, Western Union, based on 2000 Census data that showed that 97.6% of households had a “telephone.”


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

–one of David Sarnoff’s top associates in response to people urging him to invest in the radio, in 1920 (Sarnoff first proposed the concept of broadcast radio in 1915.)

65% of Americans, that’s who. According to a 2014 report, that’s what percentage of us get our news from the radio.


“Who wants to hear actors talk?”

H. M. Warner of Warner Brothers, in 1927

“We do.”- Everyone who has ever seen a movie.


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

–Gary Cooper, commenting on his decision to turn down the leading role in Gone With the Wind.

Mr. Gable would go on to be nominated for an Oscar for his performance.


“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

–Irving Fishe, a professor of economics at Yale University, in 1929

“This crash is not going to have much effect on business.”

–Arthur Reynolds, chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago, October 24, 1929




“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”

–Maréchal Ferdinand Foch, a professor of strategy at l’École Supérieure de Guerre in France, in 1911

See: WWI, WWII, Vietnam, etc… .


“A guitar’s all right, John, but you’ll never earn your living by it.”

–John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi

… 600 million records later … 

About The Author

Judson D. Hale Sr.

Jud Hale is the honorary Editor-in-chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac; Jud was the 12th editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac (since 1792!) and joined the parent company Yankee Publishing in 1958 as an Assistant Editor. Read More from Judson D. Hale Sr.

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