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Homepage / Inside Peter / Quotes

Peter's spent most of his life explaining and discussing his work. This is a growing collection of the bits worth thinking about:
Quotes from others are available further down the page..

  • Last night at precisely 8.11pm, Skynet, the giant computer network that controls most of the US's weapons, became self aware. Tomorrow it begins its assault on humanity. Two legs bad, quadcore CPU good. The game's up!
  • Sociologists are really historians
  • In the Dark Ages all you needed to be a scientist was a pointy hat
  • Climate change is the new religion - a belief system bigger than Christianity and Islam
  • Science is not a matter of opinion; it is a question of evidence
  • As a society we reward those companies and organizations that afford us greater freedom - not less!
  • I have no intention of growing old gracefully, it will be disgracefully or nothing!
  • Asked if he had carried out research before he invented the Model T Ford, Henry Ford replied: "If I had asked people what they wan-ted, I would have built a faster horse."
  • Never underestimate the collective stupidity of large groups of people
  • Never underestimate the collective creativity and genius of small groups of people
  • Innovation is a rational act in only one situation...when it has succeeded!
  • When you open your mouth it should be to improve on the silence!
  • Culture has inertia and momentum
  • IC technology is a race to the bottom
  • Never underestimate the power of vested interests
  • Reptiles have no grey matter - no neocortex - but they are still intelligent
  • "The IT and Security Departments of all the big companies are going to go the same way as the Typing Pool for exactly the same reasons"
  • "Perfection is the enemy of the good"
  • "We have to conquer complexity if we are going to make real progress"
  • "In all really big systems involving technology and/or people, over 50% of the resources are devoted to looking after the remainder!"
  • "There is no point bolting a spoiler on a duck - it won't improve the performance. If you want a jet plane, you had better start by building a jet!"
  • "Most things in this life are conditional - love is an exception - it comes without strings attached!"
  • "I don't believe in belief systems"
  • "Do not judge me by my bank balance, the size of my car, or the clothes I wear, but what I say and what I do"
  • "Happiness is more valuable than all the riches in the world, and doing the right thing most important of all"
  • "Incrementalism always self limits."
  • "I think it would be foolish of any telco to dismiss VOIP (voice over Internet), and especially Skype."
  • "All complex problems have a simple solution that is invariably wrong!"
  • "Everyone has an inner geek."
  • "If it hurts stop doing IT."
  • "It is never too late to reset and restart."
  • "WiFi is cheaper than water, lighting, heating and air condition so why charge for it?"
  • "The UK is currently 7 or 8th in the international broadband league table behind Korea, Singapore, Scandinavia, USA, Canada and Germany. I just hope our GDP/Capita doesn't follow!"
  • "DSL connections @ 500kbit/s may have looked exciting 10 years ago, but when you have a PC with a 2GHz Clock, 500Mbyte of RAM, and an 80Gbyte hard drive it is like driving a Porche with the hand break on. In 4 years it will be like walking! The PC will have a 6GHz Clock, 1Gbyte of RAM and a 200Gbyte hard drive."
  • "The world is divided into two kinds of people, those who spend a great deal of time trying to save money, and those who spend a great deal of money trying to save time."
  • "In times of recession the Europeans become introverted, introspective, and ultra-cautious. The Americans on the other hand start planning for the upswing."
  • "As a general rule humans spend all their energy and time worrying about the least significant problems whilst totally overlooking or neglecting the really important and critical...."
  • "The real problem is the world at large doesn't understand exponential functions. 2EXPn looks so damn innocent!"
  • "The established wisdom of our industry would have us believe that we are set on a course to convergence. I donšt think so! We are witnessing more divergence than ever before, with growing numbers of networks, devices, platforms, terminals, and applications. The only common themes are a focus on IP, the busting of hierarchies, and a move to self-organisation and emergent behaviours. In the next 3 ­ 5 years mobility looks set to become the dominant mode. There are already far more mobile phone chip sets being manufactured that the PC equivalent, and in an increasing number of countries the mobile phone is becoming the terminal of choice and convenience. As more mobile bandwidth becomes available we will see a seed change in applications. In Japan more people buy goods using their mobile than a PC, and in Europe you can pay for a cab, pay a restaurant bill and buy food on your mobile."
  • "When markets get tough the businesses that survive and prosper are those that respond with even lower prices and even better quality and performance"
  • "The past century saw progress limited by the rate of technology development. This new century will see progress limited by our rate of technology acceptance. Ultimately, technology will not wait for us!"
  • "Peter Cochrane is flying London to Houston TX - no terrorist ever stopped me working, travelling, doing business, being with friends, or living a full life...." E-Mail signature from 9/24/01
  • "The UK as a whole seems to be going to the dogs. No roads, no rail, no healthcare, no education, and no connectivity....it can only get better...."
  • "I see Video Conferencing in all its present forms as a dead duck. It is more or less useless. People don't like it and they certainly don't use it. When screens are wall size and high definition, when bandwidth surpasses coding and all the delays are taken out, when we get real sound, when we get eye contact, body language, gaze awareness, and a man can fall in love with a woman on it - then it will sell! Until then it will remain a toy."
  • "If the network industry fails to deliver wide-band access to the home and office, then people will solve the problem using wireless LAN technology in the same way Community Antenna TV systems evolved in the USA in the early 1950's."
  • "Technology isn't what we do, technology is what we are."
  • "Moore's wall will see the end of our present strain of silicon technology around 2015. But on the other side their are even more options and technologies available to us than ever before."
  • "I see absolutely no evidence of convergence in IT! We have an increasing number of devices, operating systems, applications, networks and network types than ever before."
  • "AI & AL systems offer our biggest opportunity for future progress - and the biggest danger. We really need to invoke Azimov's Laws of robotics, and to derive their AI & AL equivalents."
  • "Ordinary people ... believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Software designers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet."
  • "One of the most redeeming features of our species is that of being able to see the irony of what we do and the funny side of ourselves......."
  • "There is nothing quite as powerful as a good approximation - especially if you continually correct the errors with reality!"
  • "Nanotechnology will be dominant in 100 years time"
  • "Factories may only be 1 - 2m tall"
  • "We only use people when they are cheaper than machines"
  • "Robots already produce far more than people"
  • "Robots can manipulate atoms - we can manipulate nuts and bolts!"
  • "Multi-media is probably going to reach most people via their digital TV and automobile console"
  • "Soon you won't be able to use your mobile phone without multi-media"
  • "Words and pictures are wholly inadequate to understand the complexity of the world we are creating. Without three dimensional animation, augmented by sound and tactile feedback our progress could become stilted."
  • "Biological systems save the species at the expense of the individual"
  • "Multi-media is just a stepping stone between cave paintings and our ultimate subsumption into a VR world and the technology itself"
  • "I am among the first generation of people to live with antibiotics all their life - and it is now the norm that the majority of children live - it used to be that the majority die! We really don't want to go back to that!!"
  • "Organisations tolerate and generally celebrate their change agents - until they start to succeed."
  • "Our entire history has been dominated by the production and trading of artefacts in a world of random interactions. But IT is creating a chaotic world dominated by information. Bits now rule the atoms, and Ecommerce lubricates the economy of the planet."
  • "The most significant development in computing in the 21st Century? The spontaneous eruption of artificial life from a combination of massive computing power, huge memory capacity and interconnectivity, quantum uncertainty, and sensor networks. This will give us a third intelligence - beyond the human framework - and on a scale difficult for us to imagine"
  • "The future world of business will be chaotic - and continuos innovation will be a necessity and not an option."
  • "Hire for attitude - and train for skill"
  • "Cherish the quick and dirty experiment, and value the mistakes, because failure is a precursor to success"
  • "It is the fanatics that change the world"
  • "At home people buy everything without a business case"
  • "Smart people tend to ask a lot of dumb questions"
  • "If you want to write a book, do it fast, they may soon disappear"
  • "Increasing numbers of us now live on the border between physical and cyber space"
  • "A major problem with the world - companies move 10x faster than governments, but slower than markets!"
  • "Mother nature is not at all interested in our beliefs - she has her own truths"
  • "Science is obliged to follow the data - no matter where it leads"
  • "Standards are killing us"
  • "The molecule is the message"
  • "In telecommunication networks electronics has to be replaced by photonics to achieve the ultimate hike in reliability and drop in cost."
  • "Half the world has yet to make it's first phone call"
  • "It may turn out that it is sufficient to regard all of life as no more than patterns of order that can replicate and reproduce"
  • "The best way to predict the future is to invent it"
  • "Entrepreneurs create jobs - not governments"
  • "Senior managers without a lap top are out of touch"
  • "Technology always forces change"
  • "Systems engineering teams now need to be extremely diverse in education, discipline and experience"
  • "Cloning is not photocopying"
  • "We ought not to be surprised that Deeper Blue is now the supreme master - after all chess is a simple game"
  • "Why would you want anything built or made by a human when you can get superior products made by a machine?"
  • "The single biggest improvement in the health of a nation was brought about by the provision of a clean water supply and the effective treatment of sewage. The next major advance is likely to be data mining"
  • "Today there are only three economies scale of importance: information, distribution, communication"
  • "We are often wrong but seldom in doubt"
  • "Market capitalisation is overtaking turnover as the key market measure"
  • "Microprocessors now outnumber people by over 2:1 on planet earth"
  • "In a military conflict overwhelming force means outgunning the enemy > 3:1. In a commercial conflict being Number 1 and making 10x more than Number 2 means being >30% better than the best of breed in the sector"
  • "All material and manufacturing related activities are dropping in value, but services and information industries are growing. This is an exponental value change in both cases"
  • "We should engineer as we should farm - assuming we are going to live forever"
  • "If we wreck planet earth we do not deserve to survive"
  • "Having dominion over life does not mean you can do as you like"
  • "The difference between a newspaper and a lap top - no one takes a lap top into the toilet"
  • "It is time to stop bending people into technology and time to start bending technology into people"
  • "In theory the entire human race could have a simultaneous conversation, twice over, on single optical fibre as thick as a human hair"
  • "Ever since the flying doctor, people have expected mobile radio to be poor quality"
  • "It is as if the software industry is trying to build the worlds heaviest aircraft"
  • "Market forces alone will create the Information Super Footpath - a Highway needs planning"
  • "When was the last time you had to reboot your phone?"
  • "The telephone is the biggest technological entity constructed by mankind"
  • "The future is about instant gratification."
  • "In this information world you can opt out, but you can't escape"
  • "The telephone network is now the nervous system of the planet, and computers are the neurons"
  • "We cannot work any harder, but we can work smarter"
  • "By the year 2015 the super computer equal to our human brain will be with us"
  • "By 2025 it will be on our desks, and by 2030 it will be wearing us"
  • "I no longer worry about dying, but I do worry about dying before my computer is proud of me"
  • "Just 20 years ago the UK had 7600 telephone exchange, today we have 6000, plan to have 600 by the year 2005, and by 2025 may have none at all"
  • "The AI community say - 'Don't anthropomorphize computers. They will hate it.' Well I have been silicomorphized for the last 20 years and I don't like it either! But the machines work for us - don't they?"
  • "If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail"
  • "Emotional bits are the most important for humans"
  • "We live on the edge of a strange attractor, on the edge of chaos and disaster, always just one step away from disaster - only our technology saves us"
  • "We have a responsibility to our families, friends, people, company, country, profession, and our species"
  • "we all need to make a positive contribution to as many activities as possible, to the best of our ability"
  • "Political, social and commercial systems are being outpaced and outmoded by technology"
  • "In 300 years we will have eradicated all disease and death itself"
  • "Artificial piece parts for every component in the human body are now feasible"
  • "Switch off the phone network and most of us would die. No communication, no logistics, no food!"
  • "Switch off the computers and robots and most of us would die. No food and goods production!"
  • "Why buy products produced by peole when you can get the real thing - designed and built by robots? They are superior products"
  • "We have to stop burning hydrocarbons or we will suffer badly. Hydrocarbons are to valuable, and a recyclable resource, to destroy"
  • "Entropy is a celestial ratchet - it goes one way and eventually kills us!"
  • "The only people who like to travel are those who do not do it"
  • "A universal currency already exists - it is plastic and E Cash. Paper and coins are an outdated concept - a vestige of a bygone age"
  • "Management is about promoting and anticipating change"
  • "Management is about being responsible and taking action - being proactive and staying ahead"
  • "Our further advancement is critically limited by our ability to meld man and machine. We have a limited capacity - our wet ware (brain) is in stasis - but machines are not"
  • "The most important job we ever have - is to be good parents"
  • "We know very little, but are capable of a great deal"
  • "We are at our best when things are at their worst"
  • "Companies are more than money making machines - they should have a soul - a responsibility to their people and the society they serve"
  • "Quantum mechanics looks to be increasingly wrong, and a unified field theory would explain more and make more possible"
  • "Antigravity looks to be fundamentally impossible"
  • "Matter transport looks feasible"
  • "Time travel is a big question as we lack sufficient fundamental understanding. My guess is - it will be possible one day"
  • "Over 1000 years ago - a god - looked like a reasonable hypothesis. Today it looks like a real long shot"
  • "Some central life force - based on fundamentally simple rules - looks to be an increasingly strong possibility"
  • "Good technology is beneficial and improves our life and condition"
  • "People are always the most valuable asset"
  • "I look forward to a future of man, woman and machine"
  • "Mathematics is fundamentally a visualisation tool"
  • "At school I was tought to solve problems by turning handles; at university I learned how to solve problems by thinking; in industry I entered the world of mathematical understanding and non linearity"
  • "Without mathematics there would be no science, engineering or civilisation"
  • "Only politicians would try to manage a 21st Century organisation with 16th Century methods"
  • "Security is an illusion and not an absolute, it is a relative condition"
  • "You put a CD into a hi-fi system and press play. You put a CD into a PC and God help you"
  • "As I get older I find I enjoy giving prizes more than receiving them"
  • "It might just be that clarity and truth are always mutually exclusive!"
  • "No biological organism can survive in it's own waste products"
  • "Writing a new book is easier than finding one that exists"
  • "When I was a young man I knew a lot about nothing, but as I get older I know much less about very much more"
  • "Time is our most precious commodity"
  • "Just because you are a technologist does not mean you have to be boring"
  • "In California dying is seen as an unnatural act"
  • "Healthcare has now reached the point where everyone expects to be cured - no one expects to be ill or die"
  • "Carbon life is the only life we know about"
  • "I don't pay my plumber every time I flush the toilet"
  • "The way to make a network more valuable is to link it to another network"
  • "I don't read too many articles, papers and books on why technology will never achieve some given goal or breakthrough. Why? Because, sooner or later the vast majority of these authors are proven wrong."
  • "Bandwidth will be the primary status symbol in the 21st Century."
  • "Large organisations employ large numbers of really smart people to do really dumb things."
  • "Humans have such a limited concept of dimension, that they are unlikely to conceive of the really key problems let alone their solution."
  • "The distance across the English Channel is greater than that across the North Atlantic"
  • "You have to fail to learn"

  • Quotes From Others..

  • "We should base our security upon military formations which maximize the use of science and technology in order to minimize our numbers of men." Dwight D Eisenhower
  • "They can kill you but they can't eat you!"
  • "Weblogs fix the inefficiencies traditional publishers are paid to overcome......and in a world where publishing is that inefficient it is no longer an activity worth paying for." Clay Shirkey
  • "Never sacrifice the happiness of today for the memories of yesterday" Unknown Author
  • "Happiness is not a destination, it is a method of traveling"
  • "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting f**k, what a ride!!!" Paul Clarkin, Polo player
  • "What we do and how we behave at a time of crisis defines who and what we are" Richard Cochrane
  • "Work isn't work, play isn't play, its all just life" Richard Branson
  • "You can't put the right knowledge in a box" Daniel Bobrow, PARC
  • "Could you be a little more boring aint a request" Katherine Hammer, Evolutionary Technologies
  • "Attempting to decide what is the best architecture before using it always fails. Always." David P Reed
  • "You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance and Germany doesn't want to go to war." Unknown source
  • "Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion." Ralph Osterhout, San Jose Feb 2003
  • "All pop music is about sex: Rock is about wanting to do it, Jazz is about doing it, and Country and Western is about feeling guilty after you have done it." Anonymous
  • "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." Dante (1265 - 1321)
  • "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong." Abraham Lincoln
  • "Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception." Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger, 1916, Ch.9
  • "Always do right - this will gratify some and astonish the rest." Mark Twain
  • "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right." Thomas Paine
  • "The VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman alone.", Jack Valenti, MPAA
  • "Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life." Pablo Picasso
  • "I am not afraid. I have work to do and I have to do it." Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
  • "When we focus on the trivia we become it" Ian Neild
  • "A Man's Perfect Breakfast? You're sitting at the table and you're on the cover of Forbes. Your son is on the box of Wheaties. Your mistress is on the cover of Playboy. Your wife is on the back of the milk carton", Zobo Bongo Davis
  • "Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work properly yet", Douglas Adams
  • "A mobile phone needs a manual in the way that a teacup doesn't", Douglas Adams
  • "Sacred cows make the best hamburger", Mark Twain
  • "I suspect that a lot of the stress we see around us arises from the cognitive dissonance set up by one side of the brain hearing very plausible spin while the other side knows it just ain't so...", David Palmer
  • "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can somehow become great", Mark Twain
  • "Propose to any Englishman any principle or any instrument, however admirable, and you will observe that the whole effort of the English mind is directed to find a difficulty, a defect, or an impossibility in it. If you speak to him of a machine for peeling a potato, he will pronounce it impossible; if you peel a potato with it before his eyes, he will declare it useless because it will not slice a pineapple. Impart the same principle or show the same machine to an American or to one of our Colonists and you will observe that the whole effort of his mind is to find some new application of the principle, some new use for the instrument." Charles Babbage
  • "So many companies to build, so little time...", Doug Evans
  • "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime," Aristotle
  • "Work spares us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need", Voltaire
  • "The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good, and how he treats people who can't fight back", Abigail Van Buren
  • "I don't view wealth as something that validates my intelligence", Steve Jobs, 2000
  • "It is from numberless acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a mighty current that that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." From the tomb of Bobby Kennedy - an extract from his Soweto speech
  • "Nothing is more difficult than to introduce a new order. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new" - Nicolai Machiavelli, (1513)
  • "The danger from computers is not that they will eventually get as smart as men, but we will meanwhile agree to meet them halfway", Bernard Avishai
  • "There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity", General Douglas MacArthur
  • "Ideas are to Humans what pearls are to oysters - their principal source of value!" Michael Martin-Smith, 1999)
  • "Accuracy is impossible for all but the most trivial question, but blurred vision is better than none at all." Ian Pearson, BT's Futurologist, 1999
  • "Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt, 1899
  • "Motion films are no more then fog, what people want is flesh and blood on stage..." (1914)
  • "In 5 years time all companies will be Internet companies, or they won't be companies at all." Andy Groves (Intel) (1999)
  • "Cannibalisation is the key" Lew Platt (HP) (1998)
  • "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us
    We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and, fabulous?
    Actually who are you not to be?
    You are a child of light. Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
    There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
    We are born to manifest the glory of all that is within us.
    It's not just in some of us: It is in everyone.
    And as we let our light shine,
    We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same
    As we are liberated from our fear
    Our presence automatically liberates others."
    Marianne Williamson, 1992
  • "What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible.", Theodore Roethke
  • "Someone ought to tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now.", Michael Landon
  • "I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done.", Henry Ford
  • "The secret to life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to ... and the most important thing is--it must be something you can not possibly do!", Henry Moore
  • "Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present," Roger Babson
  • "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind," Winston Churchill
  • "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams," Eleanor Roosevelt
  • "You can never plan the future by the past," Edmund Burke
  • "Things that think, want to link", Nicholas Negroponte
  • "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance", Derek Bok
  • "You cannot leap a chasm in two bounds", Old Chinese Proverb
  • "It is the cracked ones that let in the light", Old Chinese Proverb
  • "You've got to keep your development work going full bore, even through recessions", Gordon Moore
  • "In a digital world anything can be a fake, and a fake is as good as an original", Anonymous
  • "We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge", John Naisbitt
  • "The question that faces the strategic decision maker is not what his organisation should do tomorrow. It is, what do we have to do today to be ready for an uncertain tomorrow?", Peter Drucker
  • "Reality is the stuff that doesn't go away just because you stop believing in it", Philip K. Dick
  • "Murphy's law of Thermodynamics - Things get worse under pressure", anonymous
  • "Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.", Aldous Huxley
  • "If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?", Stephen Levine
  • "In a hospital the Emergency Room is the Patient Router", Herbert Selmer
  • "Stress kills, pleasure heals", Herbert Selmer
  • "The most precious real estate is becoming my trouser belt space", David Farber 1997
  • "In the middle ages anyone could be a physicist - all you needed was pointy hat!", Alan Kay 1997
  • "Better the devil you don't know than the devil you do", Gordon Bell 1997
  • "If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done." (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
  • "Technology is the most potent agent of change in any society. Economies and ideologies adapt to technologies, not the other way around" quoted in Independent on Sunday, March 2nd 1997
  • "Computer systems should understand how we work and learn in an implicit fashion." (Bill Gates, November 1996)
  • "In our endeavour to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a wristwatch. He sees the face and the moving hands, and even hears its ticking, but he has no way of opening the back. If he is ingenious enough he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations." (Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld 1938)
  • "There are two types of technology: exponentially developing technology and unimportant technology." (Ian Rose when head of Bell Labs)
  • "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943)
  • "The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most." (IBM to the founders of Xerox, 1959)
  • "I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." (The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957)
  • " Talking about art is like dancing about architecture." (Steve Martin)
  • "But what ... is it good for?" (Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, on the microchip)
  • "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home". (Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977)
  • "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." (Western Union internal memo, 1876)
  • "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" (David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s)
  • "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." (A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
  • "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" (Harry M Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927)
  • "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." (Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With The Wind)
  • "A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." (Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies)
  • "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." (Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895)
  • "If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." (Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads)
  • "So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" (Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.)
  • "Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." (1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work)
  • "You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." (Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus)
  • "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." (Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859)
  • "Everything that can be invented has been invented." (Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899)
  • "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." (Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872)
  • "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." (Sir John Eric Ericksen, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873)
  • "640K ought to be enough for anybody." (Bill Gates, 1981)
  • "There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, then to initiate a new order of things." (Nicholo Machiavelli)
  • "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29.18)
  • "No youngster today should dream of becoming a corporate vice president by the time he is 50. By the time he is 50 corporate bureaucracies will no longer exist." (Norman McRae in the Economist)
  • "The age of the hierarchy is over." (Corning chairman and chief executive, James R Houghton)
  • "Make every decision as low as possible in the organisation. The charge of the Light Brigade was ordered by an officer who was not looking at the territory." (Robert Townsend, former CEO, Avis)
  • "We have a layer of clay that prevents anything either way - up or down. The layer is middle management." (Ciba chief operating officer Heini Lippuner)
  • "Tralfamadorians, of course, say that every creature and planet in the Universe is a machine. It amuses them that so many Earthlings are offended by the idea of being machines." (Kirt Vonnegut)
  • "The human body is the magazine of inventions, the patent office, where are the models from which every hint was taken. All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses." (R W Emerson 1870)
  • "I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am, I know I am not a category. I am not a thing - a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process - an integral function of the universe." (R Buckminster Fuller"
  • "In someone's words, a human being is just a computer produced by amateurs." (Dr G L Haller, General Electric)
  • "Do not be bullied by authoritative pronouncements about what machines will never do. Such statements are based on pride, not fact." (Dr Marvin Minsky, MIT)
  • " I hope we have solved the integration problems between the human races before we face the problems of integration with robots." (Dr J P Eckert, UNIVAC)
  • "Nearly all of the body organs can be replaced by compact artificial organs with built in control systems. This includes the heart, kidneys, stomach and even liver." (Dr L B Lusted, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, on the world of 2012)
  • "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." (Walt Disney)
  • "Old people are dangerous, they have no fear of the future." (anon)
  • "One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man." (anon)
  • "Ideas are like rabbits - you get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." (anon)
  • "Every animal leaves traces of what they were; man alone leaves traces of what he created", Jacob Bronowski
  • "There are some things only intellectuals are crazy enough to believe." (anon)
  • "A man must rise above the earth to the top of the atmosphere and beyond, for only then will he fully understand the world in which he lives." (Socrates circa 399BC)
  • "It was discovered that Engineering Progress is possible only if the Force applied is greater than the Friciton of Public Opposition and the Inertia of Business as Usual." (Martin Marietta: 'Preparing for the Socio-engineering Age', ASEE PRISM, February 1994, pp.24-26)
  • " Why do we continue with real wars when virtual conflicts are fun, more cost effective, and no one gets hurt?; "Can [we] choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if [we ourselves] are scientifically illiterate?" (Isaac Asimov)
  • "Any Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (Arthur C Clarke)
  • "Where is the knowledge that we have lost in information" (T.S.Eliot)
  • "I don't have to write about the future. For most people, the present is enough like the future to be pretty scary ." ( William Gibson)
  • "If it can hold an electronic charge it can hold a fiscal charge" (Kevin Kelly)
  • "10% of all web searches are sex related" (Kevin Kelly)
  • "We'd like to think all our predictions will prove right. But the highways of history are littered with wrong calls, false insights and bad guesses. Here's a sampler of 20th century futurology that flopped: I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years .... Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions". (Wilbur Wright, US aviation pioneer, 1908)
  • "I must confess that my imagination ... refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea". (H G Wells, British novelist, 1901)
  • "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value". (Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French military strategist and future World War I commander, 1911)
  • "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad". (A president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Horace Rackham (Henry Ford's lawyer) not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903. Rackham ignored the advice, bought $5,000 worth of stock and sold it several years later for $12.5 million)
  • "Believe me, Germany is unable to wage war". (Former British prime minister David Lloyd George, Aug. 1, 1934)
  • "Nobody now fears that a Japanese fleet could deal an unexpected blow on our Pacific possessions ... Radio makes surprise impossible". (Josephus Daniels, former US secretary of the navy, Oct. 16, 1922)
  • "What use could this company make of an electrical toy?" (Western Union president William Orton, rejecting Alexander Graham Bell's offer to sell his struggling telephone company to Western Union for $100,000)
  • "Computers in the future may ... perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons". (Popular Mechanics, forecasting the development of computer technology, 1949)
  • "We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out". (Decca Records rejecting the Beatles, 1962)
  • "The election of Hoover ... should result in continued prosperity for 1929". (Roger W Babson, American financial statistician and founder of the Babson Institute, Sept. 17, 1928)
  • "Radio has no future". (Lord Kelvin, Scottish mathematician and physicist, former president of the Royal Society, 1897)
  • "I have no political ambitions for myself or my children". (Joseph P Kennedy, 1936)
  • "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." (Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929)
  • "(Television) won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night". (Darryl F Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, 1946)
  • "Although television is theoretically feasible , it's a waste of time both Commercially and financially ...." 1926
  • "(F)or the majority of people, the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect". (Dr Ian G MacDonald, Los Angeles surgeon, quoted in Newsweek, Nov. 18, 1963)
  • "(Man will never reach the moon) regardless of all future scientific advances". (Dr Lee De Forest, inventor of the Audion tube and a father of radio, Feb. 25, 1967)
  • "I have experienced public discussions of cloning by religious leaders, and it has not been edifying" (Richard Dawkins. The Guardian, March 1997)
  • "When it comes to sensing emotional situations women have a 30m parabolic dish and men have a bent coat hanger and a piece of tinfoil" (Sarah Cochrane, 1997)
  • "We are here to do.
    And through doing to learn;
    and through learning to know;
    and through knowing to experience wonder;
    and through wonder to attain wisdom;
    and through wisdom to find simplicity;
    and through simplicity to give attention;
    and through attention
    to see what needs to be done..."
    (Pirke Avot)
  • "Anyone can be a barbarian; it requires a terrible effort to remain a civilized man." (Leonard Sidney Woolf)
  • "Restlessness and discontent are the necessities of progress." (Thomas A. Edison)
  • "There is no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothing" (anonymous Norwegian)
  • "Never upset anyone who buys their printing ink by the gallon" (Anonymous)
  • "An individual without information cannot take responsibility; an individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility" (Jan Carlson)
  • "Communication is human nature. Knowledge sharing is human nurture." (Alison Tucker)
  • "An expert is a person with a great knowledge about a legacy system - indeed there are no experts on the future." (Henry Kissinger)
  • "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth" (John F Kennedy 1917 - 1963)
  • "The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives." (Albert Einstein)
  • "Perhaps the best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time." (Dean Acheson)
  • "The secret of success is consistency of purpose." (Benjamin Disraeli)
  • "We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities." (Pogo)
  • "Future shock [is] the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time." (Alvin Toffler)
  • "What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want." (Mignon McLaughlin)
  • "The length of a meeting rises with the square of the number of people present." (Eileen Shanahan.)
  • "Men who never get carried away should be." (Malcolm Forbes)
  • "Unhappiness is best described as the difference between our talents and our expectations." (Edward de Bono)
  • "Although we have been fortunate in that large parts of the current files of the Ministry have been burned and so relieved us for a time of useless ballast, we cannot really expect that such events will continually introduce the necessary fesh air into our work" (Albert Speer 1943)
  • "Knowledge is the beginning of practice; doing is the completion of knowing" (Wang Yang-Ming 1498)
  • " Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity." (Albert Einstein)