The dimwits apparently guffawed themselves hoarse when Edison invented sound. Giggles were hard to come by in those days.
In December, when Paul Lawrie finished runner-up in the season-ending Dubai World Championship and immediate talk of a return to the Ryder Cup arena reared its head, some cynics chuckled at the prospect. Well, who's laughing now?
Admittedly, Lawrie has always shrugged off the premature predictions. The canny 43-year-old is too long in the tooth to allow himself to get carried away on a wave of media-generated enthusiasm.
"If I can play well in the first dozen events, then I think you're going to have a little bit of a chance at it, but that is a long way away and I'd be foolish to say I'll make it," stated the naturally modest Lawrie, as he typically downplayed any ambitious spoutings in the aftermath of that Dubai display prior to Christmas.
Two months down the line, and Lawrie has given himself more than a "little bit of a chance" of earning a European call-up for the first time since 1999. Re-energised and rededicated, the popular Aberdonian's rousing renaissance shows no sign of petering out. His final-round seven-under-par 65, en route to a commanding four-shot win in Sunday's Qatar Masters, was a masterclass and the perfect illustration of a golfer revelling in that much sought after zone where all aspects of the game work in tandem to devastating effect. Ball striking, putting; the full package was on show in a display of total authority that had eager observers cooing like a posse of pigeons on an electric fence. There was also plenty of mental fortitude in evidence, too. During the second round, he accidentally dropped the ball on his marker on the 10th green and was eventually penalised a shot. It's another one of golf's harsh rules that perhaps the powers that be can have a closer look at but Lawrie swiftly put the potentially momentum-shattering incident to the back of his mind with a further trio of birdies coming home as he eased into the lead.
His purposeful, and never before achieved, run of four top-10s in a row on the European circuit has helped him barge his way up to No.47 on the world rankings and into the giddy heights of fourth on the Ryder Cup points list. As he mapped out his battle-plan for the 2012 campaign, the Scot referred to the top 50 on the global order as "the holy grail". Now that he has hauled himself back into that elite echelon for the first time since 2003, Lawrie has the ideal platform from which to launch an assault on the promised land of Medinah and a second appearance in the transatlantic tussle.
The next few weeks will be crucial to those ambitions. Following this week's Dubai Desert Classic, Lawrie will head for Arizona to contest the WGC-World Matchplay, while he remains hopeful of gaining an invitation to the Honda Classic that immediately follows. The week after that, he is in the field for the WGC-Cadillac Championship which would possibly mean he will miss out on defending his Andalucian Open crown. If he manages to cement his place in that top 50, a return to the Masters beckons in April and, if he made the cut in the first major of the year, Lawrie would probably have to miss the opening couple of days of the Scottish Boys' Championship at Murcar, the event that his Foundation will sponsor for the first time.
Lawrie's teenage son, Craig, who will play in the under-18s matchplay contest, will just have to make sure he gets through the early exchanges and is still in the mix when dad turns up. Should Lawrie Sr be a late arrival, then Craig, as well as followers of Scottish golf, will be more than content. It will mean that the seven-time tour winner has carried the early-season promise into the spring.
For a player who was, shamefully, never showered with the plaudits upon winning the Open 13 years ago and was labelled by supposed experts as an unworthy champion, Lawrie is proving, once again, just what a fine golfer he is. "I'm only 43 and my age is getting mentioned quite a lot, but I'll go a while yet."
If he can keep going to the Ryder Cup, it would be a fitting reward. Let's hope it's Lawrie who has the last laugh come September.
AND ANOTHER THING
The golfing gods certainly work in mysterious ways. Last week, Kyle Stanley stood on the final tee with a four-shot lead in the Farmers Insurance Open, racked up a triple-bogey 8, lost in a play-off and trudged away from Torrey Pines in tears.
On Sunday, Spencer Levin led the Phoenix Open by six after three rounds and by seven with 17 holes to play but crumbled with a ghastly 75. The ultimate beneficiary of that collapse? A certain Mr Stanley, who found redemption with a closing 65 to land his maiden PGA Tour title. It truly is a bewildering old game.