#0052 Great Ideas That Were Originally Rejected

Welcome back, my fellow travellers. It is a joy to have the pleasure of your company and spending a moment together. I hope your week has gone well and you’ve gotten as much life out of that as possible. 



One of the ways we may overcome the feelings is to take some examples from recent history as comfort.

In that spirit, here is a collection that I have researched and found to be the most interesting.

A Western Union internal memo dated 1876 said, “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” So David Sarnoff’s Associates rejected a proposal for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” Famously attributed to H.M. Warner before he rejected a proposal for films with sound in 1927.

In one rejection letter to Chester Carlson, one of twenty companies turned away the Xerox machine’s inventor between 1939 and 1944. The company writes, “Who wants to copy a document on plain paper?!”

In 1977 Ken Olsen, the then President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., Was reputed to have commented, “There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Steve Jobs went to Atari and said, ‘we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts; what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you if we work for you and you pay us a salary. They said, “No.” So we went to Hewlett Packard. And they said, ‘We don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through College yet.”

Further back in history, we have other examples.

In the 6th century BC, Pythagoras declared the world was round. However, it would take many centuries before the fear of falling off the edge of the Earth was quelled. It was in 1492 that Christopher Columbus set sail around the globe.

Today Galileo is referred to as the father of modern science. Yet in the 1600s, he was sentenced to house arrest for supporting the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. In contrast, Giordano Bruno, philosopher, mathematician and cosmological theorist, was burned at the stake.

Darwin’s idea of natural selection has become the cornerstone of modern biology, and the author withheld science for eight years before he published it in 1838. For fear of opposition from his peers. Who still believed that evolution was due to supernatural forces.

Ignaz Semmelweis Hungarian physician and early pioneer of antiseptic procedures, was killed by a guard in an asylum for continuing to insist that the high death rates being experienced were because physicians refused to wash their hands after studying cadavers in the morgue.

Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist, was one of the most influential advocates for atomic theory. At the time, physics was of physical certainty in an ordered universe. However, he defined that God did not impose order but came from atoms’ turmoil. Boltzmann’s genius was that he accepted the probability. As a result, he could begin to understand complex phenomena like fire, water and life. Things that traditional physics or mechanics would never understand. Tragically demoralised that his ideas were not accepted, he committed suicide in 1906.

So when you get your rejection letters from editors and publishers, remember that there have been many far greater in history that have experienced similar. So do not be dismayed but instead continue to believe in your idea until someone sees the magic you knew all along.






Published work

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: