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(Business Insider)   The ten stupidest things ever said by tech's smartest people. No, the Al Gore quote isn't there, but he's not one of tech's smartest people (warning: slideshow)   (businessinsider.com) divider line 66
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5729 clicks; posted to Geek » on 18 Apr 2013 at 9:48 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-18 04:13:57 AM  
I think that Bill was close to being correct about Spam being solved.

Ten years ago Spam was a big deal. I subscribed to Cloudmark to attempt to reduce some of the clutter, and still had lots of deleting to do.

Now Spam is more of a rarity. My email hosting company filters out just about all of it, and it seems to get better every day. I have no need for 3rd party tools to manage it, and I am far less careful about giving out my email address.

Amazing enough, I sort of miss the Nigerian scam of the day. It was often amusing to find out how many rich relatives I had who were killed in traffic accidents on the Oxford road.
 
2013-04-18 07:10:54 AM  
Thomas J. Watson never said that.

Lord Kelvin never said that.

I have doubts about a couple of others, but can't be bothered to look them up.

Is Jobs wrong about subscription/streaming? AFAIK pay-per-song download services such as iTunes and Amazon MP3 store are making money, while subscription/streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora are still losing money. He might eventually be wrong, but even that wouldn't make it a "stupid" statement.

Several of the other quotes are not "stupid" at all, they are perfectly sensible predictions that happened to turn out wrong.

If we ever have a "ten stupidest articles" list, Business Insider would probably occupy the top eleven slots.
 
2013-04-18 09:27:07 AM  
"500 dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine." -Steve Ballmer on the introduction of the first iPhone" - Steve Ballmer


To be completely fair to Steve Ballmer, he was somewhat correct for the most part. $500 dollars after subsidization was way too expensive. This is why Apple quickly lowered the price to $199 after subsidization after the initial launch. And as for the second part - there is a reason why Blackberries were the de facto business phones up until maybe 2 years ago.
 
2013-04-18 09:54:46 AM  
In Silicon Snake Oil, Clifford Stoll, the best-selling author of The Cuckoo's Egg and one of the pioneers of the Internet, turns his attention to the much-heralded information highway, revealing that it is not all it's cracked up to be.  Yes, the Internet provides access to plenty of services, but useful information is virtually impossible to find and difficult to access. Is being on-line truly useful? "Few aspects of daily life require computers...They're irrelevant to cooking, driving, visiting, negotiating, eating, hiking, dancing, speaking, and gossiping. You don't need a computer to...recite a poem or say a prayer." Computers can't, Stoll claims, provide a richer or better life.

Tee hee

And don't forget the classic:

"640K should be enough for anyone." - Bill Gates
 
2013-04-18 09:56:27 AM  
Without looking at TFA, I will guess the following:

1) The remark about there being a "worldwide market for about six computers" (I forget who made that one)

2) The remark by the president of DEC that he doesn't see why anyone would want a computer in their home.

3) Bill Gates's remark that 640K should be enough for anybody.

Now, let's see how I do....
 
2013-04-18 09:56:51 AM  
Pre RRTFA

Steve Job's Apples dont get viruses better be on there...

Though most of those were epicly wrong. I still find Job's saying his computers do not get viruses to be up there. Maybe #11.
 
2013-04-18 09:59:57 AM  
pactlab-dev.spcomm.uiuc.edu
 
2013-04-18 10:00:08 AM  

Cybernetic: Without looking at TFA, I will guess the following:

1) The remark about there being a "worldwide market for about six computers" (I forget who made that one)

2) The remark by the president of DEC that he doesn't see why anyone would want a computer in their home.

3) Bill Gates's remark that 640K should be enough for anybody.

Now, let's see how I do....


Two out of three, although Watson actually said five computers, not six.

I see that Bill Gates's comment has faded into history, or at least been eclipsed by other, more stupid remarks.
 
2013-04-18 10:00:15 AM  
Mentat:And don't forget the classic:

"640K should be enough for anyone." - Bill Gates


640k was enough for anyone...at that time.  As all things, information and technology progressed and suddenly 640k wasn't enough. Also, at the time, memory was very expensive so people used as little as possible in their codes, which also limited computer abilities.  As memory production cost reduced and memory cost reduced, programs were able to do more and more with the space and thus coding size, and therefore memory requirements, increased.  Now RAM is dirt cheap and most new computers have 8-16gigs or more.
 
2013-04-18 10:01:28 AM  

Mentat: "640K should be enough for anyone." - Bill Gates


I agree with Bill on that one. It should be enough (at least, unless you're playing intensely graphical games). The fact that it isn't reflects badly on the state of software. For instance, Firefox is currently consuming 340 megabytes to render two tabs. In the old days, NASA programmers could fit the entire navigation program for a probe into a few K, including failsafe and watchdog routines, and an uploader to receive patches, and still have room for a chess endgame solver as the idle loop.

/Get off my lawn.
 
2013-04-18 10:02:20 AM  
#11 - We have no farking idea what we're talking about. We just turned loose an English major intern and this is what she came up with.

Oh, and we got you to look at 12 pages filled with ads from people paying us to get your eyeballs on their ads, so there's that.
 
2013-04-18 10:05:21 AM  

czetie: For instance, Firefox is currently consuming 340 megabytes to render two tabs.


You're doing it wrong...my wife's laptop is currently consuming 114 mb to render six tabs. Hint: scripts are not your friend.
 
2013-04-18 10:05:24 AM  
"There's just not that many videos I want to watch." -Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube

He's right.  Most of the videos on his site are unwatchable.
 
2013-04-18 10:09:18 AM  

Stone Meadow: #11 - We have no farking idea what we're talking about. We just turned loose an English major intern and this is what she came up with.

Oh, and we got you to look at 12 pages filled with ads from people paying us to get your eyeballs on their ads, so there's that.


Unless you have an ad blocking program. Then they get nothing!
 
2013-04-18 10:10:04 AM  

tricycleracer: "There's just not that many videos I want to watch." -Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube

He's right.  Most of the videos on his site are unwatchable.


That was actually what I was thinking.
 
2013-04-18 10:11:22 AM  
Another major flaw is they consider Cliff Stoll one of tech's smartest people.  He's no internet pioneer either.  He's a failed astronomer that rode the wave of a PBS special /book and became a "security expert" in the process.

Now he sells Kline bottles and is totally out of touch with technology.
 
2013-04-18 10:11:59 AM  

yves0010: tricycleracer: "There's just not that many videos I want to watch." -Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube

He's right.  Most of the videos on his site are unwatchable.

That was actually what I was thinking.


I go to YouTube for the comments.
 
2013-04-18 10:13:04 AM  

Stone Meadow: #11 - We have no farking idea what we're talking about. We just turned loose an English major intern and this is what she came up with.

Oh, and we got you to look at 12 pages filled with ads from people paying us to get your eyeballs on their ads, so there's that.


The English Major intern took something that has been floating around the internet since the early days of Usenet (hell, probably longer than that), and published it for the millionth time, with one or two quotes updated to make it "fresh".

Seriously, I've been hearing the Kelvin, Olsen and Watson quotes FOREVER. Usually in lists just like this.
 
2013-04-18 10:14:00 AM  

mr_a: I think that Bill was close to being correct about Spam being solved.

Ten years ago Spam was a big deal. I subscribed to Cloudmark to attempt to reduce some of the clutter, and still had lots of deleting to do.

Now Spam is more of a rarity. My email hosting company filters out just about all of it, and it seems to get better every day. I have no need for 3rd party tools to manage it, and I am far less careful about giving out my email address.

Amazing enough, I sort of miss the Nigerian scam of the day. It was often amusing to find out how many rich relatives I had who were killed in traffic accidents on the Oxford road.


Not really - filters, blacklists, etc. only do so much.  Just because you don't see it in your inbox doesn't mean it isn't being sent and some guy has to deal with it.  These techniques don't spontaneously appear so someone has to develop, configure and maintain them.  It's a bit of a pain for network admins since it's work spent to clean up the junk mail of the Internet.
 
2013-04-18 10:14:16 AM  
Wow, there's an old-school Fark troll.  Al Gore isn't one of tech's smartest people but his actions as a Congressman was one of the smartest political moves related to technology.  Just ask Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf.
 
2013-04-18 10:18:30 AM  

bob_ross: Another major flaw is they consider Cliff Stoll one of tech's smartest people.  He's no internet pioneer either.  He's a failed astronomer that rode the wave of a PBS special /book and became a "security expert" in the process.

Now he sells Kline bottles and is totally out of touch with technology.


I have no idea what he's up to these days, but I did read "The Cuckoo's Egg" many years ago, and it was an interesting book. When "Silicon Snake Oil" came out, it seemed like he was just looking for something to say to keep his notoriety from fading.
 
2013-04-18 10:20:00 AM  

Lumpmoose: Wow, there's an old-school Fark troll.  Al Gore isn't one of tech's smartest people but his actions as a Congressman was one of the smartest political moves related to technology.  Just ask Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf.


Pfff, what do those guys know about the Internet? I have it on good authority that the Internet is not like a truck you just put something on, but more like a series of tubes.
 
2013-04-18 10:20:17 AM  
How about subby to linking to a slideshow...


Deslidefied


And btw, the Bill Gates "quote of 640K thing, it's old, it's over, he never said it... urban legend...
 
2013-04-18 10:22:12 AM  

bob_ross: Another major flaw is they consider Cliff Stoll one of tech's smartest people.  He's no internet pioneer either.  He's a failed astronomer that rode the wave of a PBS special /book and became a "security expert" in the process.

Now he sells Kline bottles and is totally out of touch with technology.


I would say he was of some importance at one time. Or at least could have been, if he hadn't been almost an anti-visionary and screwed it up big time. You're right though, he wasn't much of a pioneer with his views.
 
2013-04-18 10:22:33 AM  

WhippingBoy: yves0010: tricycleracer: "There's just not that many videos I want to watch." -Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube

He's right.  Most of the videos on his site are unwatchable.

That was actually what I was thinking.

I go to YouTube for the comments.


I tend to go for quick gaming references (Achievement Hunter mainly) and other Rooster Teeth videos while I am on the go.
 
2013-04-18 10:22:54 AM  

imfallen_angel: How about subby to linking to a slideshow...


Deslidefied


And btw, the Bill Gates "quote of 640K thing, it's old, it's over, he never said it... urban legend...


True or not, that remark is a staple of lists like this.
 
2013-04-18 10:24:19 AM  
What's wrong with what Watson said? In 1943, there may have been a market for only 5 computers. He didn't say there will only ever be a market for 5 computers. And IBM certainly didn't sell only 5 computers during the 1950's and 1960's when he took charge.

Ballmer's was real dumb. Also shows why he should have been booted out of MS a long time ago.

Gates's was too hopeful, but only because he thought it would be completely solved. Gmail and other spam filters have largely made spam irrelevant for anyone who wants to avoid spam.

Kelvin's is a rephrasing of a quote about how he thought lighter-than-air craft were the way to go.

Olson: see Balmer. Same for Zanuck

Chen was expressing personal preference. How is that dumb?

Jobs was right at the time. The devices and infrastructure needed for consumer music subscription services were created after he said that, and he helped create a large part of it.

The rest are people who frankly aren't that smart and really aren't that relevant to technology.
 
2013-04-18 10:27:41 AM  

czetie: Mentat: "640K should be enough for anyone." - Bill Gates

I agree with Bill on that one. It should be enough (at least, unless you're playing intensely graphical games). The fact that it isn't reflects badly on the state of software. For instance, Firefox is currently consuming 340 megabytes to render two tabs. In the old days, NASA programmers could fit the entire navigation program for a probe into a few K, including failsafe and watchdog routines, and an uploader to receive patches, and still have room for a chess endgame solver as the idle loop.

/Get off my lawn.


I got 240 megabyte (including plugin container) for 10 tabs.
 
2013-04-18 10:30:59 AM  

czetie: I agree with Bill on that one. It should be enough (at least, unless you're playing intensely graphical games). The fact that it isn't reflects badly on the state of software.


Sloppy coding practices and that worthless P.O.S. Java.
 
2013-04-18 10:39:49 AM  
I don't anybody should be holding spotify up as a model of stellar success.
 
2013-04-18 10:46:26 AM  
Mentat: 
And don't forget the classic:

"640K should be enough for anyone." - Bill Gates


It's well known that Bill Gates never said that.

Steve Balmer was proven correct, dunno how that quote fits.
 
2013-04-18 10:46:59 AM  

zipdog: What's wrong with what Watson said? In 1943, there may have been a market for only 5 computers. He didn't say there will only ever be a market for 5 computers. And IBM certainly didn't sell only 5 computers during the 1950's and 1960's when he took charge.

Ballmer's was real dumb. Also shows why he should have been booted out of MS a long time ago.

Gates's was too hopeful, but only because he thought it would be completely solved. Gmail and other spam filters have largely made spam irrelevant for anyone who wants to avoid spam.

Kelvin's is a rephrasing of a quote about how he thought lighter-than-air craft were the way to go.

Olson: see Balmer. Same for Zanuck

Chen was expressing personal preference. How is that dumb?

Jobs was right at the time. The devices and infrastructure needed for consumer music subscription services were created after he said that, and he helped create a large part of it.

The rest are people who frankly aren't that smart and really aren't that relevant to technology.


Some of these statements were sensible (or at least understandable) in the time and the context in which they were made, and are egregiously wrong only in retrospect. The people who made them are guilty of not being sufficiently visionary, which, frankly, is true of most of us.

Watson's comment was made in 1943, the same year that the U.S. government signed the contract for ENIAC. Computers were housed in entire buildings, and were bought only by governments, and only for military purposes. The transistor wouldn't even be invented for another four years.

Olson sold big computers to governments, universities, and corporations. I can understand that he wouldn't see a home computer market.

Craven's comment was made in 1961, only four years after the launch of Sputnik, and three years after the launch of the first U.S. satellite.

Jobs, who most would call a visionary in many respects, made his comment in 2003, two years after the release of iTunes 1.0, and (more importantly) the year that the iTunes store opened for business. It's likely that he was referring to the business model of iTunes (selling downloads) as opposed to some sort of subscription-based service. Eighty-gazillion downloads later, I think that the people who manage Apple's vast store of cash don't much care that he might have been wrong about subscription-based music.
 
2013-04-18 10:53:07 AM  

zipdog: What's wrong with what Watson said? In 1943, there may have been a market for only 5 computers. He didn't say there will only ever be a market for 5 computers. And IBM certainly didn't sell only 5 computers during the 1950's and 1960's when he took charge.


The first computer outside of Germany wasn't even build till 1946 anyway.

Although all countries quickly build their own computers, they also had to invent stuff to do on them, stuff they could have done on existing computers.

Take the first Danish computer, which was used to tabulate the results of the general election. Frankly they could just have asked someone else to do it, but then they didn't get to build a computer and the industry to go along with it.
 
2013-04-18 10:58:06 AM  

Cybernetic: Olson sold big computers to governments, universities, and corporations. I can understand that he wouldn't see a home computer market.


After doing some more interwebs research, I found that even Olsen's quote is taken out of context. He was talking about home automation, not having a PC in the house. He did, however, miscalculate how the home PC market would work and DEC went down.

/what do you mean everyone doesn't want a vax in his house?
//didn't say that either
 
2013-04-18 10:58:40 AM  

bob_ross: Another major flaw is they consider Cliff Stoll one of tech's smartest people.  He's no internet pioneer either.  He's a failed astronomer that rode the wave of a PBS special /book and became a "security expert" in the process.

Now he sells Kline bottles and is totally out of touch with technology.


He's also crazy, which some people confuse with genius.
 
2013-04-18 10:59:30 AM  
"I was fined $4 million and permanently barred from the securities industry by the SEC in order to settle claims that I committed fraudulent acts while working at Merrill Lynch.  This makes me the ideal person to be the CEO of a blog called 'Business Insider'!" --Henry Blodget
 
2013-04-18 11:04:51 AM  
Steve Jobs Says 7-Inch Tablets Are 'Dead on Arrival'
How about that one?

/loves my 7" tablet - its size is frankly more better than my larger dust catching tablet device
 
2013-04-18 11:04:57 AM  

Cybernetic: imfallen_angel: How about subby to linking to a slideshow...


Deslidefied


And btw, the Bill Gates "quote of 640K thing, it's old, it's over, he never said it... urban legend...

True or not, that remark is a staple of lists like this.


Friends of mine with C64s back in the day told me you will never need more than 64k.
 
2013-04-18 11:09:58 AM  
Ballmer's comment was part right on the price. Had the Apple not finally decided to allow the iPhone to be subsidized down to $200(and probably even more importantly, old phones for $100 or free), it would be looking at a much smaller market share for a $500 upfront cost phone.
 
2013-04-18 11:19:35 AM  
OMG! What is that in the bottom right of the article!?

It's it is OMG!  A VIEW AS ONE PAGE BUTTON!Web designer have finally heard the endless biatching of farkers and have begun turning away from their wicked slideshow ways!

Praise M.Marks!
 
2013-04-18 11:24:54 AM  

Ima_Lurker: Cybernetic: imfallen_angel: How about subby to linking to a slideshow...


Deslidefied


And btw, the Bill Gates "quote of 640K thing, it's old, it's over, he never said it... urban legend...

True or not, that remark is a staple of lists like this.

Friends of mine with C64s back in the day told me you will never need more than 64k.


Sad, I started with a VIC-20 and even then I know (when he C-64 came out) that this was just the beginning and there was no such thing as "enough" memory.

They probably have Apple products today, don't they...?
 
2013-04-18 11:25:59 AM  

Cybernetic: Two out of three, although Watson actually said five computers, not six.


...except Watson didn't say it at all. Usual level of Business Insider factual accuracy.
 
2013-04-18 11:26:04 AM  
It was IBM's non-forward-looking architecture decisions, not Microsoft's -- choosing the cost-reduced Intel 8088 CPU rather than the baseline 8086; reserving more than 1/3 of the address space for memory-mapped I/O devices yet to be conceived -- that consigned a DOS PC's conventional memory limit to 640KB.
 
2013-04-18 11:27:08 AM  
Does list include the patent office guy in the 1880s that said everything worth inventing has been invented? Because I like my apocrypha poorly xeroxed and tattered.
 
2013-04-18 11:29:14 AM  

zipdog: What's wrong with what Watson said? In 1943, there may have been a market for only 5 computers. He didn't say there will only ever be a market for 5 computers. And IBM certainly didn't sell only 5 computers during the 1950's and 1960's when he took charge.


Again: what's wrong is that Watson never said it (even though it's a staple of shoddy, slapped-together lists like this one).
 
2013-04-18 11:36:43 AM  
Did those people actually, truly BELIEVE what they were saying? To me, many of those quotes were simply marketing spin to downplay possible new and competing technology.
 
2013-04-18 11:40:13 AM  

czetie: zipdog: What's wrong with what Watson said? In 1943, there may have been a market for only 5 computers. He didn't say there will only ever be a market for 5 computers. And IBM certainly didn't sell only 5 computers during the 1950's and 1960's when he took charge.

Again: what's wrong is that Watson never said it (even though it's a staple of shoddy, slapped-together lists like this one).


Got it. Thanks. You can stop hammering away at that point.
 
2013-04-18 11:43:41 AM  
1) reasonable statement at the time, especially remembering the limited flexibility and applications computers had in 1943, and there is never a listed source for the quote for this either
2) absolutely correct statement
3) seems a reasonable approximation as far as most people are concerned, I haven't seen any significant amount of spam in years
4) There is no source for this quote, and in fact other quotes from Kelvin suggest a different view, for example "Some day, no doubt, some one will invent a flying machine that one will be able to navigate without having to have a balloon attachment. But the day is a long way off when we shall see human beings soaring around like birds "
5) This quote is mangled again - he was in a company selling computers to individuals as well as businesses, so he was well aware people were buying computers for their homes and using them at home. In context he was talking about the idea of having a central computer to run your house
6) Seems accurate, but note this was in an article talking about the web being overhyped about how it was going to change everything - quite a few he got right and the expected massive changes still haven't happened, and quite a few he got wrong, so in context it doesn't seem that big a deal
7) Appears to be an accurate, in context quote. wow.
8) Seems to be an accurate quote (although very odd, if he didn't see anyone wanting to watch more than a few videos, why did they start the site?)
9) Seems an accurate quote, but you could easily imagine he was as much trying to persuade people against TVs to protect his financial interests against a new competitor as it being what he actually thought
10) Quote seems to be true, maybe it won't be sometime in the future, but hardly stupid even it that happens. Having lots of customers doesn't count as not being bankrupt if you are still losing money while doing so
 
2013-04-18 11:55:10 AM  
"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."
 
2013-04-18 12:53:39 PM  

Moopy Mac: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."


Which came out of the Gore Bill.  But saying he "created the internet" conjures the mental image of him wearing a lab coat and connecting wires, which is hard to take seriously no matter how important his legislation actually was.
 
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