According to various internet sites, Murphy's history goes something like this...
The Law was originally discovered by a sergeant at Edward's Air Force Base, California. Rocket-sled experiments were done by the United States Air Force in 1949 to test human acceleration tolerances (USAF project MX981).However, others have thrown into question Murphy's claim to authorship and a detailed discussion on this arcane topic will be found on Wikipedia. But just remember: "If it is possible to miss an important meeting while reading this, you will!"
One experiment involved a set of 16 accelerometers mounted to different parts of the subject's body. There were two ways each sensor could be glued to its mount. Of course, somebody managed to install all 16 the wrong way around. It was then that Edward A Murphy, Jr made his epic pronouncement: "If anything can go wrong, it will."
In any event, whether he was Sgt Murphy or someone else, he, she or they were only hijacking the much older rule known as Sod's Law ("If there's some poor sod who's going to get it in the neck, you will be that poor sod!") or, perhaps, a lesser know authority, Finagle's Law.
And even before Sod and/or Finagle, sages were putting forward similar immutable premises, among them.....
Alfred Holt, engineer:
It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later, so it is not to be wondered that owners prefer the safe to the scientific........and- Review of the Progress of Steam Shipping
during the last Quarter of a CenturyMinutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Vol. LI, Session 1877-78
Nevil Maskelyne, magician and First President of The Magic Circle:
It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion, such as the production of a magical effect for the first time in public, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to the malignity of matter or to the total depravity of inanimate things, whether the exciting cause is hurry, worry, or what not, the fact remains.- 'The Art in Magic', The Magic Circular, June 1908
And before both of them (and others) an anonymous writer in the Huron Reflector for November 23rd, 1841 edition observed:
I never had a slice of bread,Anyway, to this latest cache of Murphyisms...
Particularly large and wide,
That did not fall upon the floor,
And always on the buttered side.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, five or six at a time, on a hill, in the fog.
The things that come to those who wait will be the scraggly junk left by those who got there first.
The shinbone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
When you go into court, you are putting yourself into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
You can find out more about Murphy and bone up on his laws at: Murphy's Laws Site and Muphy's Law: If It Can Go Wrong, It Will.