Innovation. Maybe.


“All human institutions since the dawn of prehistory or earlier had always been designed to prevent change–all of them: family, government, church, army. Change has always been a catastrophic threat to human security.”

  • Peter R. Drucker

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.”

  • G. B. Shaw

“The disturbing fact is that the vast majority of people, including educated and otherwise sophisticated people find the idea of change so threatening that they attempt to deny its existence. Even many people who understand intellectually that change is accelerating, have not internalized that knowledge, do not take this critical social fact into account in planning their own personal lives.”

  • Alvin Toffler 

“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.”

  • Author C. Clarke

“Given the underground resistance to change…the new idea either finds a champion or dies.”

  • Donald A. Schon

“I watched his countenance closely, to see if he was not deranged… and I was assured by other Senators after we left the room that they had no confidence in it.”

  • Reaction of Senator Smith of Indiana after Samuel Mores demonstrated his telegraph before member of Congress (1842)

“…as far as I can judge, I do not look upon any system of wireless telegraphy as a serious competitor with our cables. Some years ago I said the same thing and nothing has since occurred to alter my views.”

  • Sir John Wolfe-Barry, at a stockholders meeting of the Western Telegraph Company (1907)

“…we hope that Professor Langley will not put his substantial greatness as a scientist in further peril by continuing to waste his time and the money involved in further airship experiments. Life is short and he is capable of services to humanity incomparably greater than can be expected to result from trying to fly…for students and investigators of the Langley type, there are more useful employments.”

  • New York Times advice to Samuel Langley in 1903 one week before the successful Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk (Langley is credited with the first unmanned airplane flight on May 6, 1896)

In 1913 Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube which made broadcasting possible, was brought to trial on charges of fraudulently using the U.S. mails to sell stock to the public in the Radio Telephone Company, “a worthless enterprise.” In the court proceedings, the district attorney charged that “De Forest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that is would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public…has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company…”

  • De Forest was acquitted, but the judge advised him”
    “…to get a common garden variety of job and stick to it.”

In 1876 Chauncey M. Depew asked his friend, the president of Western Union, whether he thought he ought to acquire a 1/6-interest in the Bell telephone patent for $10,000. His reply: “There is nothing in this patent whatever, nor is there anything in the scheme itself, except as a toy.”

“Mr. Bell, after careful consideration of your invention, while it is a very interesting novelty, we have come to the conclusion that it has no commercial possibilities.”

  • J. P. Morgan’s comments on behalf of the officials and engineers of Western Union after a demonstration of the telephone.

“Even if the propeller had the power of propelling a vessel, it would be found altogether useless in practice, because the power being applied in the stern, it would be absolutely impossible to make the vessel steer.”

  • Sir William Symonds,
    Surveyor of the British Navy (1837)

In 1908 Billy Durant, in trying to raise money to create an automobile trust, boasted to J.P. Morgan & Co. “that the time would come when half a million automobiles a year will be running on the roads of this country.” This annoyed Morgan partner George W. Perkins who said “If that fellow has any sense, he’ll keep those observations to himself.” Unable to raise capital in Wall Street, Durant went home and put together something called General Motors.

“The Edison Company offered me the general superintendency of the company but only on the condition that I would give up my gas engine and devote myself to something really useful.”

  • Henry Ford (1922)

 “The actual building of roads devoted to motor cars is not for the near future in spite of rumors to that effect.”

  • Harper’s Weekly (1902)

“Good enough for our transatlantic friends…but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.” A committee of the British Parliament in 1878 reporting on Thomas Edison’s ideas for developing an incandescent lamp.


Bulbs from Open Clipart

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