"It will be years --not in my time-- before a woman will become Prime Minister." --Margaret Thatcher, October 26th, 1969.
She became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom only 10 years after saying that, holding her chair from 1979 to 1990. But she wasn’t all that wrong since she is the only woman to have held this post. Maybe she should have added the word “again.”
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
It may sound ridiculous now, but the prediction was actually true for about ten years after it was made. Almost every forecaster would settle for a ten year limit on the testing of their forecasts. Of course, by the 1980s and the advent of the PC, such a statement looked plain daft.
“That virus [HIV] is a pussycat.” --Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, 1988,
By 2006, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization estimated that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on December 1, 1981.
"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." --Associates of Edwin L. Drake refusing his suggestion to drill for oil in 1859.
Only one hundred fifty years passed by since the first attempt to dig out oil from the ground met such contempt, and now the whole world is trying to look for unimaginable places to satiate the thirst for money that is propelled and sustained on this black gold.
“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” --New York Times, 1936.
10 years later, in 1946, the first American-built rocket to leave the earth's atmosphere was launched from White Sands, attaining 50 miles of altitude.
"Reagan doesn’t have that presidential look." --United Artists Executive, rejecting Reagan as lead in 1964 film The Best Man
Before becoming the 40th President of the United States in 1981, Ronald Reagan pursued an acting career, but spent the majority of his Hollywood career in the "B film" division. In 1964 he was rejected for a part in a movie with presidential candidate theme due to "not having the presidential look".
"The singer [Mick Jagger] will have to go; the BBC won’t like him." --- First Rolling Stones manager Eric Easton to his partner after watching them perform.
We can only wonder what Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger, Golden Globe, Grammy Award-winning English singer-songwriter, rock musician and occasional actor, has to say about it now.
“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” --Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859)
It may sound impossible to Dr Larder, professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at the University College London back in the 1800, but in 1939 the first high speed train went from Milan to Florence at 165 km/h (102.5 mph). Thankfully no one died. Nowadays these trains go at 200 km/h (125 mph) and faster.
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” --Lord Kelvin, 1895.
This was said by Lord Kelvin (British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society) only eight years before brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright took their home-built flyer to the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, cranked up the engine, and took off into the history books.
"There will never be a bigger plane built." --A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.
What would this engineer say if he saw the current largest passenger plane on earth, the Airbus A380? The Airbus A380 has 50% more floor space than arch rival Boeing's 747 Jumbo, with room for duty-free shops, restaurants and even a sauna, and can provide site for up to 853 people.
"Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard." -- Tris Speaker, baseball hall of famer, talking about Babe Ruth, 1919.
Ruth has been named the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings, and his home run hitting prowess made him a larger than life figure in the "Roaring Twenties". He became the first player to hit 60 home runs in one season (1927), a record which stood for 34 years until broken by Roger Maris in 1961. Ruth's lifetime total of 714 home runs at his retirement in 1935 was a record for 39 years, until broken by Hank Aaron in 1974.
"Ours has been the first [expedition], and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality." ---- Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.
More than a century later, five million people annually visit this "profitless locality," by car, foot, air, and on the Colorado River itself.
"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one." --W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.
In 1964 the United States Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health began suggesting the relationship between smoking and cancer, which confirmed its suggestions 20 years later in the 1980s. Nowadays, it’s well known that long-term exposure to tobacco smoke is the most common causes of lung cancer.
"You better get secretarial work or get married." --Emmeline Snively, advising would-be model Marilyn Monroe in 1944.
In 1944, Marilyn Monroe was discovered by a photographer who encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book modeling agency. She was told by Snively, director of the Modelling Agency that she should became a secretary, besides they were looking for models with lighter hair. So Marilyn dyed her brunette hair to a golden blonde. She finally signed a contract with the agency. And of course, became Blue Book's most successful model.
"Read my lips: No new taxes." --George Bush, 1988.
That pledge was the centerpiece of Bush's acceptance address, written by speechwriter Peggy Noonan, for his party's nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention. It was a strong, decisive, bold statement, and you don't need a history degree to see where this is going. As presidents sometimes must, Bush raised taxes. His words were used against him by then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in a devastating attack ad during the 1992 presidential campaign.