IBM president Thomas Watson supposedly made this observation in 1943. It was popularized in The Experts Speak, whose compilers again cited as their source that book's English predecessor, The Book of Facts and Fallacies. Though many have tried to verify this remark, no one has succeeded. Diligent searching by biographer Keven Maney turned up no such prediction in press coverage of IBM or in Watson's speeches and papers. IBM's own archivists can only tell the many who inquire about this prediction by Watson that it can't be found in their files (and they've looked). On the other hand, Harvard's Howard Aiken, who before World War II developed a mechanical calculator called Mark I, is known to have estimated after the war that the entire country's computing needs could be met with four or five electronic computers. (Aiken was not the only one to feel this way at that time.) According to Maney, Thomas Watson's son and successor, Thomas Watson, Jr., gave a speech in 1953 saying that in the 1940s IBM anticipated getting five orders for an early computer they developed. In 1951, British physicist Douglas Hartree told a visitor that in his opinion three computers would be sufficient to do all the calculations that Great Britain would ever need. Attributing a version of these forecasts to Tom Watson is one more case of a quotation seeking out the most prominent appropriate mouth.
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