21st Challenge No. 30

Cloudy crystal-balling: When techno-predictions go awry


Charlie VaronJim Rosenau
January 29, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

Jan. 29, 2000

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

-- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

-- Ken Olsen, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

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"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

-- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

The above quotes are gleaned from an e-mail "forward" that arrives most frequently at the turn of the year. What is it that's so satisfying about reading predictions that didn't pan out? The know-it-all naysayer proved wrong! The short-sighted given their comeuppance!

We celebrate the rollover to 2000 on our collective odometer by inviting readers to create predictions for technological breakthroughs that may or may not occur sometime in the next thousand years. Keep your quotations under 40 words. Attribute them if you like.

E X A M P L E

"Who's going to want a metal coil implanted in their tongue, even if it could tell you when you've eaten enough?"

R U L E S

Send your submissions via e-mail only to salon21st@salon.com. Please include your full name and an accurate e-mail address so we can contact you if you're a winner. By submitting your entry you give Salon Technology permission to publish it. Deadline for entries is Feb. 7, 2000.

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P R I Z E S

The winning response will receive a copy of Salon Technology senior correspondent Andrew Leonard's book, "Bots: The Origin of New Species."

In two weeks we'll publish a winner and some selected entries -- then start over a couple weeks after that with a whole new challenge.

N O T E

The response to our Challenge No. 29 was disappointingly meager, and we decided not to award a winner or publish results. We guess you just weren't in an e-gift-giving kind of mood.


Charlie Varon

Charlie Varon is a humorist and playwright. His works include "Ralph Nader Is Missing" and "Rush Limbaugh in Night School."

MORE FROM Charlie Varon

Jim Rosenau

Jim Rosenau is a writer, editor and software designer in Berkeley, Calif. Jim and Charlie are also co-founders of the citizens group Californians for Earthquake Prevention and partners in Mockingbird Media, which offers a full line of comic services.

MORE FROM Jim Rosenau

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