A collection of quotations, supposedly accurate, but not verified by me...
This is a supposedly "accurate" list of quotations, although I have not personally run them down, and you may note there are no citations actually given. A suggestion has been made that presenting this list without actually checking it out myself is an example of poor scholarship; I plead guilty to the charge, but then again, this is not a scholarly endeavor (its a humorly one, I would hope).
--Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
** New information has been supplied with respect to this quotation... stay tuned for updates as they occur... :
A very relevant citation with respect to this quotation (that is almost certainly apocryphal anyway) is: Eber Jeffery, "Nothing Left to Invent," Journal of the Patent Office Association, Vol. 22, #7, pp. 479-481, 1940. This article attempts to trace the "there's nothing left to invent" story, and leans towards attributing its origin to a statement made to Congress in 1843 by then Patent Commissioner Henry L. Ellsworth:
" 'The advancement of the arts, from year to year, taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end.' "
He went on, however, to make a strong case for expansion of the Patent Office due to rapid scientific progress. In context it would seem he clearly did not believe that "there's nothing left to invent." Another of many examples of how important context is.... My thanks to the web page visitor who passed along the article by Jeffery.
By the way, apparently Jeffery worked on a program called the D.C. Historical Records Survey out of the Works Projects Administration....
-- Bill Gates, 1981
--Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
--Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
--The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
--Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
(Still might be asked today...)
--Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
--Western Union internal memo, 1876.
--David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
--Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
--A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
--Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.
--Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.
--1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.
--Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
--Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
and I'll consider its value for inclusion in this list (after all, I'm
an expert too...).