Urban legend: I think there is a world market for maybe five computers

Geekhistory urban legend: I think there is a world market for maybe five computersAn internet search of the phrase "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers" will produce dozens of websites claiming those were the words of IBM Chairman Thomas Watson.

The quote is often listed as one of the biggest epic fail statements of all times. We searched the net trying to find the source of the quote, and the verification that the statement was made by IBM Chairman Thomas Watson.

Many websites often have the date 1943 attached to the quote, as was the case of a slide we found on the Microsoft website, and as it is presented on a page for the PBS television show Nova. For all the dozens of websites that list the quote attributed to IBM Chairman Thomas Watson, none of the websites have any information on the source or circumstances of the quote.

Searching IBM websites and online IBM documents turned up an IBM history document that attributes the quote to a misunderstood statement made at a stockholders meeting in 1953.

From a question on the history of IBM on their website, "Did Thomas Watson say in the 1950s that he foresaw a market potential for only five electronic computers?" IBM offers the following explanation:

Explore who invented the internet and origins of all things geek

Geek History explores who invented the internet

GeekHistory explores who invented the internet, the history of computers, and the origins of all things geek. History is often a matter of perspective, as it is seen through different eyes the answer to the question changes.

One of the biggest misconceptions of any type of history is when a single person is credited for a discovery we often fail to realize that the discovery was not the work of a single person done in a void of any outside influence. Many times the person given credit for an invention is one of a number of persons who can easily be credited for the invention.


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