Re: That farmer...
If memory serves Tanenbaum was himself quoting an old adage, certainly variations on the theme have floated around for decades. About 20-25 years ago I was involved with SCO quite heavily. Admittedly that itself probably doesn't predate his reference but the quote used in the SCO community was "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a motorcycle courier with a DAT tape".
You did get push back of course even among sysadmins. I do recall a post on one of the newsgroups to the effect of "What's the best way to transfer 1.5Gb of data across town each day?" When he got the standard answer he responded "I was looking for serious suggestions".
Remember, this was twenty years ago. When it was pointed out a T1 connection would easily run to five figures annually he went oddly quiet.