– Ken Olson, 1977
One of the all-time classic tech prediction flubs, this quote came from the lips of president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., Ken Olson, way back in 1977. At that time, the first microprocessors had only recently come to market, personal computers of the era sported awkward names like “TRS-80,” Microsoft and Apple were startups, and Radio Shack was the place to go for a compu-fix.
In other words, the PC was still very much a fringe concept adopted only by ultra-nerds. Ask someone who lived through 1977 if they’d even recognized the existence of home computers, and chances are they were too busy zoning out to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors to even notice.
But here’s the thing: Ken Olson was a nerd. King of the nerds, even; he was an engineer all his life and had been building computerized flight simulations for the Navy before JFK had even taken office. He’d been at the helm of the behemoth Digital Equipment Corp since its birth in 1957.
If there was anyone who could see what lay ahead, one would think Olson – or one of his ilk – would be that person. Speculation is that his quote referred primarily to mainframe computers, but we can’t let him off the hook that easily.
Click through the different predictions below: