Top 10 bad tech predictions

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robert metcalfe with george bush“I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”

– Robert Metcalfe, 1995

In 1995, Robert Metcalfe, the same brainiac who co-invented a little thing called Ethernet (yep, that Ethernet), opened a little company called 3Com. The same year, in a column for InfoWorld, he famously predicted the 1996 annihilation of the Internet.

Why would a guy so obviously together stroll out on such an incredibly thin limb? Because Metcalfe figured it was a money pit – not an entirely erroneous thought at the time. He trudged out a number of other reasons in the December ’95 issue of InfoWorld, including concerns over digital money, capacity, speed, and much more.

When viewed as a whole, Metcalfe’s rationale seems to make some sense. And to his credit, he ended the now infamous column by saying “I hope I’m not being too negative,” and asking readers to “Tell me if you think so.” Still, “spectacularly supernova” and “catastrophically collapse” are fightin’ words. And mighty wrong.

Years later, Metcalfe acknowledged his lack of insight by scrunching up a copy of his column, sticking it in a blender with a dollop of water, and consuming the concoction on stage, in full view of an appreciative audience.

How can you not admire the guy?

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