Theres a famous story about Fred Smith at Yale submitting for class a business plan for what would one day be Federal Express, and getting it back with a C and a comment from the professor: The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a C, the idea must be feasible.
Thats such a delightful story that it really ought to be true; but heres what Smith himself says about it:
The first phase really started when I was an undergraduate at Yale in 1965. I wrote a term paper for an economics class in which I simply observed that as society became more automated, companies like IBM and Xerox that sold early computer devices needed to make sure that their products were dependable. … How do you get your computer parts quickly when your system goes down? You couldnt depend on the post office. I believed youd need a faster, more dependable, and more far-reaching kind of delivery system. Thats what the paper was about; it was not a full-blown business plan.
Today that paper is kind of famous, and its because of a careless comment I once made. I was asked what grade I got on it, and I stupidly said, I guess I got my usual gentlemanly C. That stuck, and its become a well-know story because everybody likes to flout authority. But to be honest, I dont really remember what grade I got it. I probably didnt get a very good one, though, because it wasnt a well-thought-out paper.
From which I infer that the famous quotation (never attributed to any professor by name) is, alas, inauthentic.