Quantum leaps: Tech shifts that shook up the status quo and left the experts behind

Sometimes you assume that a technology has reached its pinnacle. Usuallly you're wrong.
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Credit: Poor, misquoted Thomas Watson. Paul C. Lasewicz/Wikipedia

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers," would in retrospect have been a pretty funny thing for IBM CEO Thomas Watson to have said 1943. He never said any such thing, as it happens, but the urban legend that he did is very persistent, in part because of what we know about how technology advances: we know that what seems reasonably stable and fixed today can be swept aside as inadequate tomorrow, and what seems impossible today will be commonplace in the future. This slideshow examines moments in tech history when the consensus that we had reached a high point or logical conclusion became suddenly, hilariously incorrect.

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