Saturday, February 06, 2010

Things that weren't actually said, but became myths

Martin Cooper is deemed by some to be the inventor of the first handheld cellular phone and the first person to make a call on a handheld cell phone prototype on April 3, 1973, in front of reporters and passers-by on a New York City street. On Wikipedia one finds text from Cooper: I hate to mess up a good story but the Star Trek anecdote [about being inspired by Captain Kirk using his communicator on Star Trek ]is not exactly true. A TV program entitled “How William Shatner Changed the World” has a segment showing me being inspired by the Star Trek Communicator, but they made it up and I went along because it was “cute”. I’ve been sorry ever since.

Similarly, the statement "A billion here, a billion there...." is frequently attributed to Everett Dirksen. HOWEVER, this may be an urban legend created by a misquote of Dirksen by a newspaperman, as noted by the Dirksen Center: Update, May 25, 2004. A gentleman who called The Center with a reference question relayed that he sat by Dirksen on a flight once and asked him about the famous quote. Dirksen replied, "Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so go that I never bothered to deny it."

See also Willie Sutton and "where the money is."


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