Notable blunders in computer predictions

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by Scott Gardner, May 31, 2004.

  1. I was thinking today that for all our technical prowess, and the
    amazing rate of technological development, we're very bad about
    actually predicting HOW all of this new technology will used in the
    future.

    Probably the two most famous gaffes are IBM saying back in the sixties
    that there was probably a market for a half-dozen computers at most in
    the world, and Bill Gates' famous assertion that "640k should be
    enough for anybody".

    As examples from more recent years, I was thinking today about CD-ROM
    drives and video cards. When CD-ROM drives first began getting
    popular, the great advantage to them was going to be that we would no
    longer need to load software onto our hard drive. There would be a
    very small "loader program" on our hard drive for each application,
    but the applications would actually be run off of the CD-ROM. We all
    know how long THAT lasted.

    When AGP video cards first hit the market, one of the advantages was
    that you could use part of your main system RAM as video ram. This
    sounded like a great idea, since main RAM is so much cheaper than an
    equivalent amount of video RAM. As a result, one of the major video
    card manufacturers (I wish I could remember which one) said that even
    a high-end AGP video card shouldn't need more than 4 or 8 megabytes of
    video RAM installed on it. Again, we all know how long that idea
    lasted.

    Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
    invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?

    Scott Gardner
     
    Scott Gardner, May 31, 2004
    #1
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  2. When AOL and Time Warner merged it was supposed to be bringing together old
    and new technolagy. That didn't last too long either.

    Andrew Watiker

    "Scott Gardner" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I was thinking today that for all our technical prowess, and the
    > amazing rate of technological development, we're very bad about
    > actually predicting HOW all of this new technology will used in the
    > future.
    >
    > Probably the two most famous gaffes are IBM saying back in the sixties
    > that there was probably a market for a half-dozen computers at most in
    > the world, and Bill Gates' famous assertion that "640k should be
    > enough for anybody".
    >
    > As examples from more recent years, I was thinking today about CD-ROM
    > drives and video cards. When CD-ROM drives first began getting
    > popular, the great advantage to them was going to be that we would no
    > longer need to load software onto our hard drive. There would be a
    > very small "loader program" on our hard drive for each application,
    > but the applications would actually be run off of the CD-ROM. We all
    > know how long THAT lasted.
    >
    > When AGP video cards first hit the market, one of the advantages was
    > that you could use part of your main system RAM as video ram. This
    > sounded like a great idea, since main RAM is so much cheaper than an
    > equivalent amount of video RAM. As a result, one of the major video
    > card manufacturers (I wish I could remember which one) said that even
    > a high-end AGP video card shouldn't need more than 4 or 8 megabytes of
    > video RAM installed on it. Again, we all know how long that idea
    > lasted.
    >
    > Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
    > invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
    >
    > Scott Gardner
    >
    >
     
    Andrew Watiker, May 31, 2004
    #2
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  3. Scott Gardner

    Beachcomber Guest


    >> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
    >> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
    >>
    >> Scott Gardner
    >>


    Computers in the 1960's meant problem solving machines...
    Specifically, math problems. If you were studying engineering or
    advanced math, programming a computer was useful to you.

    You just had to have the patience to punch those silly cards. Except
    for certain scientific disciplines, there just wasn't much interest in
    computers from many academic departments.

    Few if anyone realized the great advances in graphics that would come
    in the future, or the incredible cost of scale that would make a
    computer a commodity product available to almost anyone for a low
    cost. Steve Jobs is one person who was aware of this in the early
    70s with his simplified vision of a computer factory where the raw
    materials enter at one end, mostly silicon (sand) and finished
    computers emerge at the other end.

    The business world thought computers to be a novelty of use only to
    gamers and scientists until the killer app program "Visi-Calc" came
    out in the early 80's, the world's first commercial spreadsheet
    program.

    Today's young people may not be aware of how late in the century it
    was before the Internet became mainstream (about 1993-1994) even
    though the early military model of a computer network goes back to the
    late sixties.

    Before that, clunky computer modem driven BBS services served as a
    model for exchanging files and information. France built a nationwide
    1200 Baud teletext service (the Minitel) during the 1980's in an early
    effort to exchange digital information.

    Finally, those of you who got online about that time may remember all
    of the taboos, prohibitions, and netiquette that discouraged any
    commercial use of the Internet. This was in the days where .orgs and
    ..edus outnumbered .coms
     
    Beachcomber, Jun 1, 2004
    #3
  4. Scott Gardner

    Michael-NC Guest

    "Beachcomber" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    > >> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
    > >> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
    > >>
    > >> Scott Gardner
    > >>

    >
    > Computers in the 1960's meant problem solving machines...
    > Specifically, math problems. If you were studying engineering or
    > advanced math, programming a computer was useful to you.
    >
    > You just had to have the patience to punch those silly cards. Except
    > for certain scientific disciplines, there just wasn't much interest in
    > computers from many academic departments.
    >
    > Few if anyone realized the great advances in graphics that would come
    > in the future, or the incredible cost of scale that would make a
    > computer a commodity product available to almost anyone for a low
    > cost. Steve Jobs is one person who was aware of this in the early
    > 70s with his simplified vision of a computer factory where the raw
    > materials enter at one end, mostly silicon (sand) and finished
    > computers emerge at the other end.


    Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
    left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has to
    Steve Jobs.
     
    Michael-NC, Jun 1, 2004
    #4
  5. On Tue, 01 Jun 2004 01:33:24 GMT, "Michael-NC"
    <> wrote:

    >
    >"Beachcomber" <> wrote in message
    >news:...
    >>
    >> >> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
    >> >> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
    >> >>
    >> >> Scott Gardner
    >> >>

    >>
    >> Computers in the 1960's meant problem solving machines...
    >> Specifically, math problems. If you were studying engineering or
    >> advanced math, programming a computer was useful to you.
    >>
    >> You just had to have the patience to punch those silly cards. Except
    >> for certain scientific disciplines, there just wasn't much interest in
    >> computers from many academic departments.
    >>
    >> Few if anyone realized the great advances in graphics that would come
    >> in the future, or the incredible cost of scale that would make a
    >> computer a commodity product available to almost anyone for a low
    >> cost. Steve Jobs is one person who was aware of this in the early
    >> 70s with his simplified vision of a computer factory where the raw
    >> materials enter at one end, mostly silicon (sand) and finished
    >> computers emerge at the other end.

    >
    >Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
    >left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has to
    >Steve Jobs.


    True, but I wonder if the Macintosh would be the same product today if
    Jobs had licensed everything out and Mac "clones" began popping up
    everywhere. One thing that's always impressed me about my parents'
    Macintosh is that the hardware and the operating system seem very
    tightly and cleanly integrated. Not surprising, since they're coming
    from the same company. How much harder would it be if there were
    dozens of companies making Macintosh "compatible" motherboards?

    Scott Gardner
     
    Scott Gardner, Jun 1, 2004
    #5
  6. Scott Gardner

    Oldus Fartus Guest

    "Michael-NC" <> wrote in message
    news:E1Ruc.19779$...
    >


    > Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
    > left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has

    to
    > Steve Jobs.
    >


    I wonder whether that is true? When the PowerPC was introduced Apple
    licensed clone manufacturers, but very quickly revoked the licenses when
    Jobs came back into the fold. One could easily argue that Apple would
    completely lose control of the product just as IBM did with the "IBM
    compatible" to the extent where they are now just another clone maker.

    Having said that though, I would like to see Apple port their OS to x86
    processors.

    --
    Cheers
    Oldus Fartus
     
    Oldus Fartus, Jun 1, 2004
    #6
  7. Scott Gardner

    ProfGene Guest

    Who could have predicted that cell phones would be used for taking pictures
    or sending text messages. People did envision a video phone but that is
    different. Also who would have thought that people would be using computers
    to talk to each other and even see each other in remote locations all around
    the world. I remember how thrilled I was seven or eight years ago when I
    was chatting with someone from mainland china in a text room and now I have
    illustrated a book for an Iranian translator whom I have never met which
    will be published in Iran. I also chatted to his English class and showed
    him my paintings by holding them in front of a little video camera. He even
    asked me what are you drinking. So Marshal McKluen's Global Village has
    become a reality. He predicted that people would work from home back in the
    sixties though his prediction that the great traffic jam of commuters would
    end has not come true.
    "Scott Gardner" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I was thinking today that for all our technical prowess, and the
    > amazing rate of technological development, we're very bad about
    > actually predicting HOW all of this new technology will used in the
    > future.
    >
    > Probably the two most famous gaffes are IBM saying back in the sixties
    > that there was probably a market for a half-dozen computers at most in
    > the world, and Bill Gates' famous assertion that "640k should be
    > enough for anybody".
    >
    > As examples from more recent years, I was thinking today about CD-ROM
    > drives and video cards. When CD-ROM drives first began getting
    > popular, the great advantage to them was going to be that we would no
    > longer need to load software onto our hard drive. There would be a
    > very small "loader program" on our hard drive for each application,
    > but the applications would actually be run off of the CD-ROM. We all
    > know how long THAT lasted.
    >
    > When AGP video cards first hit the market, one of the advantages was
    > that you could use part of your main system RAM as video ram. This
    > sounded like a great idea, since main RAM is so much cheaper than an
    > equivalent amount of video RAM. As a result, one of the major video
    > card manufacturers (I wish I could remember which one) said that even
    > a high-end AGP video card shouldn't need more than 4 or 8 megabytes of
    > video RAM installed on it. Again, we all know how long that idea
    > lasted.
    >
    > Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
    > invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
    >
    > Scott Gardner
    >
    >
     
    ProfGene, Jun 1, 2004
    #7
  8. Scott Gardner

    derek / nul Guest

    On Tue, 1 Jun 2004 10:38:34 +0800, "Oldus Fartus" <>
    wrote:

    >
    >"Michael-NC" <> wrote in message
    >news:E1Ruc.19779$...
    >>

    >
    >> Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
    >> left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has

    >to
    >> Steve Jobs.
    >>

    >
    >I wonder whether that is true? When the PowerPC was introduced Apple
    >licensed clone manufacturers, but very quickly revoked the licenses when
    >Jobs came back into the fold. One could easily argue that Apple would
    >completely lose control of the product just as IBM did with the "IBM
    >compatible" to the extent where they are now just another clone maker.
    >
    >Having said that though, I would like to see Apple port their OS to x86
    >processors.


    Why, osx is a bsd clone?
     
    derek / nul, Jun 1, 2004
    #8
  9. Scott Gardner

    Beachcomber Guest

    On Tue, 01 Jun 2004 19:55:39 +1000, derek / nul <>
    wrote:

    >On Tue, 1 Jun 2004 10:38:34 +0800, "Oldus Fartus" <>
    >wrote:
    >
    >>
    >>"Michael-NC" <> wrote in message
    >>news:E1Ruc.19779$...
    >>>

    >>
    >>> Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
    >>> left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has

    >>to
    >>> Steve Jobs.
    >>>

    >>
    >>I wonder whether that is true? When the PowerPC was introduced Apple
    >>licensed clone manufacturers, but very quickly revoked the licenses when
    >>Jobs came back into the fold. One could easily argue that Apple would
    >>completely lose control of the product just as IBM did with the "IBM
    >>compatible" to the extent where they are now just another clone maker.
    >>
    >>Having said that though, I would like to see Apple port their OS to x86
    >>processors.

    >
    >Why, osx is a bsd clone?


    I used to work for Apple back in those days (early 1980's) and yes, it
    was apparent to us insiders that the company had blundered in several
    ways. The corporate mindset at the time was that the Lisa Computer
    was going to be sold mostly to Fortune 500 companies (for $10,000) and
    that the emerging Macintosh was the Computer for the rest of us. One
    early problem was that the first Macintosh models were a piece of
    useless junk. In order to load an app or copy a disk, you had to
    swap your disk in and out of the Mac's drive sometimes 20 times or so.
    This was because of a memory chip shortage. (The first Mac's had 128k
    of RAM - That's correct k not M!). Also the early software was
    buggy... I remember demonstrating spreadsheats when the famous Mac
    "Bomb Message" would appear and freeze up the computer. Sometimes you
    even had to stick a paper clip in the drive to get your disk out.

    Macs did not take off until the 1984 or so with the release of the
    Laserwriter Printer (for $3000 or so). Eventually the price came down
    and desktop publishing WYSIWYG evolved. It was a close call.
    Businesses and individuals now had a small printing shop in their
    office and could put fancy type in reports without going to a
    typesetter.

    Another major blunder is detailed in the movie "Pirates of Silicon
    Valley" occured when Steve Jobs gave the secrets of the mouse/GUI
    software to Bill Gates and enabled MS to come out with Windows. (Jobs
    had originally obtained this innovative software from Xerox - which is
    another story of a bigtime corporate blunder - Xerox, in this case!)

    Even though the first versions of Windows sucked big time, it was
    cheap and it could be run on a cheap PC. Apple was never interested
    in low margin products. Windows eventually caught on to capture
    80-90% of the market and the rest is history.

    Apple today is a successful company. Their products are innovative
    and technically superior in most cases. Had some historical events
    jogged just the other way though, most of us might be using
    Macintoshes instead of PCs.

    Beachcomber
     
    Beachcomber, Jun 1, 2004
    #9
  10. Scott Gardner

    Thor Guest

    > Apple today is a successful company. Their products are innovative
    > and technically superior in most cases. Had some historical events
    > jogged just the other way though, most of us might be using
    > Macintoshes instead of PCs.


    And people would be screaming "antitrust violation" from the rooftops at
    Apple, because of the level of control and oversight they exercise over the
    hardware, and software on their systems. Apple only gets away with it
    without criticism because of their market position VS. MS/Intel. If MS
    decided to stop licensing it's OS to PC manufacturers, and decided to start
    making their own PCs, the anti-MS crowd would have fit, and they couldn't
    beat a path to the courthhouses fast enough to sue MS. Apple's OS
    development team has to contend with but a fraction of the hardware and
    software configuration variables and complexity compared to the Windows
    development team when they design an OS.
     
    Thor, Jun 1, 2004
    #10
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