10 Tech Predictions From the 90s That Never Came True

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AUTHOR: Saad Muzaffar

We have seen many sci-fi predictions take shape as fiction became a reality and the impossible became possible. However, many incorrect predictions surfaced in the '80s and '90s from pioneers in the field. Brace yourselves for some absurd comments.

1. A Catastrophic Collapse

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In 1995, Robert Metcalfe, the co-inventor of the Ethernet, remarked, "I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." This failed tech prediction is easily one of the most popular. A few years later, Robert Metcalfe admitted that he was wrong about it all.

2. No Replacements

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"The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher, and no computer network will change the way government works." These words from author, astronomer, and tech nerd Clifford Stoll did not age well.

3. Shopping Without Salespeople

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At another event, Clifford also made another failed prediction: "Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet -- which there isn't -- the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople." His comments were clearly off the mark with internet banking and online shopping becoming the norm.

4. The Poisonous Apple

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In 1997, Dell's CEO, Michael Dell, shared his ambitious and fantastic vision: "I'd shut [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders." Fast forward to today, when many of us need no introduction to Apple, with its tremendous success in the tech market. It's one of the most prestigious brands in the world.

5. The Test of Time

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It seems that Michael Dell wasn't the first one to envision Apple's downfall. In a February 1996 issue, TIME Magazine stated, "...Apple [is] a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future." Well, here I am typing away on my MacBook.

6. Y2K Crisis

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In 1998, Edmund DeJesus said Y2K "is a crisis without precedent in human history." Edmund was among countless people predicting the doom of the millennium as many thought the digital equipment would collapse once the "99" turned "00." Now it can be said: we crossed that river without much trouble.

7. Metcalfe's Lawlessness

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Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton University, predicted the decline of the internet according to the loophole in Metcalfe's Law. The law states that the quantity of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants.

However, according to Krugman, "most people have nothing to say to each other!" He predicted that by 2005, the internet's impact will be as little as the fax machine's. Does anyone want to comment on that one?

8. Mobile Mishaps

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In 1992, the CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove, was quoted in The New York Times, "...the idea of a wireless personal communicator in every pocket is 'a pipe dream driven by greed'." It's funny how many of us are reading his words on the same mobile devices he shunned.

9. Superhero Kids

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Some fictional pieces also deserve a mention on this list. Akira (1988) may have been a cinematic treat, but it was far off in its assumptions about World War III and advancements producing children with special powers. The same goes for Teen Titans — we still don't have cyborgs running around.

10. Storage Sadness

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In the 80s, Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, remarked, "No one will ever need more than 637KB of memory in a computer. 640KB ought to be enough for anybody." Well, Bill, tell that to my ever-shrinking 256GB storage.

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