When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations, sometimes at our peril. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.
“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. And many forecasters 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.