9 Life-Changing Inventions the Experts Said Would Never Work

5. Data Transmission

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“Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General under Eisenhower, 1959.

“Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.”
Dennis Gabor, British physicist, 1962.

A brilliant scientist, Gabor received the Nobel Prize for inventing holography – but entirely failed to anticipate e-mail and the modem. (To be fair, so did everyone else). Nowadays, entire bookshelves can be transmitted for a few cents in the blink of an eye, making scientific collaboration a truly global enterprise. And all without rockets.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.