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    (see also FORECASTING)

    Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility--a development which we should waste little time dreaming about. 

    Lee de Forest, 1926, inventor of the cathode ray tube.

    I think there is a world market for about five computers. 

    Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM.

    We don't think the Beatles will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out. 

    Recording company expert, 1962.

    A devout believer in astrology, French king Louis XI was deeply impressed when an astrologer correctly foretold that a lady of the court would die in eight days' time. Deciding, however, that the too-accurate prophet should be disposed of, Louis summoned the man to his apartments, having first told his servants to throw the visitor out of the window when he gave the signal. "You claim to understand astrology and to know the fate of others," the king said to the man, "so tell me at once what your fate will be and how long you have to live."

    "I shall die just three days before Your Majesty," answered the astrologer. The shaken king canceled his plans!

    Today in the Word, July 16, 1993.

    The book The World's Worst Predictions lists some of history's all-time prophetic goofs:

    King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution.

    An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm's newly built flagship, the Titanic, launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable.

    In 1939 The New York Times said the problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn't have time for it.

    An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate.

    Marshal Ferdinand Foch in 1911: "Airplanes are interesting toys, but they have no military value."

    Business Week, 1958: "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market."

    Frank Knox, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, on December 4, 1941: "Whatever happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping."

    Economist Irving Fisher on October 16, 1929: "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."

    The World's Worst Predictions, in Reader's Digest, March 1991.