April Fools Day

Because I am such a fan of well thought out pranks, I offer this compilation of past April Fools gags, pranks, and scams from Wiredcom  and Business Pundit.  

First up to bat?  Wired.com:
1976 At precisely 9:47 am on April 1, Pluto will pass behind Jupiter, causing a brief reduction in Earth’s gravitational pull. Astronomer Patrick Moore urges his BBC Radio audience to jump into the air at that exact moment to experience a floating sensation. At 9:48, dozens of light-headed listeners begin calling the station to report their success.

1984 Never mind the Cold War; the Soviets want to initiate unfettered discussions with Americans via Usenet newsgroups. This according to a message from what appears to be a Kremlin server (kremvax.UUCP). Thus the Internet hoax is born. When Moscow’s first real Usenet site appears years later, it’s named kremvax.

1994 A proposed law will ban online sex chat and inebriated Web surfing. “Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is,” editorializes PC Computing. The bill’s supposed sponsor, Senator Ted Kennedy, is not in on the joke. After an onslaught of complaints from drunken perverts, he issues a formal denial.

1995 The hotheaded naked ice borer, a sort of mole with a searing, bony forehead, lurks under Antarctica, melting the ice beneath the butts of hapless penguins and eating them as they sink. When Discover magazine publishes its retraction, penguins everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief.

1997 Between March 31 and April 2, the World Wide Web will be closed for cleaning. Five Japanese-built, multilingual Internet-crawling robots will remove “electronic flotsam and jetsam.” But don’t believe everything you read in an email.

1998 In accordance with a biblical passage describing the circumference-to-diameter ratio of a bowl in the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7:23), the Alabama legislature has voted to round the value of pi to 3.0. Well, that was the claim made by the New Mexicans for Science and Reason in their newsletter … or rather, circular.

1998 Disney has bought MIT for $6.9 billion. The School of Engineering will be renamed the School of Imagineering and the campus will move to Orlando, according to hackers who altered the MIT homepage. Hey, anything’s better than trying to work in an Athena cluster.

1999 To fund the US government’s $4 billion next-gen Internet project, millions of Internet nodes are available for an initial price of $100 each at Webnode.com. The Business Wire press release induces nearly 2,000 would-be investors to try to buy in. Another name for this April foolery was “the tech boom.”

2003 Bill Gates is dead, shot by a lone gunman at a charity event in Los Angeles. After three South Korean networks broadcast the story on local TV, ensuing panic triggers a 1.5 percent drop in the Seoul stock exchange — a value loss of $3 billion. Just another Windows-related crash. 

And this collection from Business Pundit showing even business can have a sense of humor:

1.  In 2002, Tesco ran a fake newspaper ad announcing the ‘whistling carrot,’ a carrot genetically modified to contain airholes on each side that caused the carrot to whistle when it finished cooking.

 2.  Lebanon Circle Magik Co., a studio specializing  in sculptures and curios, posted a picture of what appeared  to be a mummified fairy on its homepage in 2007. The site  explained that the fairy had been found by pedestrian in  rural Derbyshire, leading to an explosion of online  speculation about whether the fairy was real. Even after  owner Dan Baines revealed the hoax, people continued to  believe the fairy mummy was real.




3.  In 1982, the Daily Mail—a frequent April Fool’s prankster—reported that 10,000 locally manufactured bras were interfering with radio and TV broadcasts through an extremely conductive copper underwire. The metal in the underwire was normally used in fire alarms; body heat and nylon made it produce signal-disrupting static electricity.

QuoteThe chief engineer of British Telecom, upon reading the article, immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.

4.  Sports Illustrated took advantage of April Fool’s Day in 1985 by publishing an article about Sidd Finch, a new Mets’ recruit with a 168-mph pitch. Finch had purportedly learned the “art of the pitch” from a Tibetan master named Lama Milaraspa. Mets fans went wild–until they learned it was a hoax.

5.  A mysterious flying saucer landed in a field near London on March 31, 1989. The police arrived to inspect the scene and were shocked to see a human-like figure in a silver suit step out. The “alien” was actually Virgin’s Richard Branson, who had built a hot air balloon to resemble a UFO. He had intended to land in Hyde Park on April Fool’s Day, but the wind forced him to abandon the mission a day before April Fool’s.

6.  In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it was renaming the Liberty Bell to the Taco Liberty Bell. The phone lines at Philadelphia’s National Historic Park were clogged with citizen complaints at the unacceptable move.  Taco Bell enjoyed the joke for a few hours, after which it revealed the claim as a fake.
7.  In 1962, Sweden’s only  TV channel broadcast in the news that viewers could get their black-and-white TV sets to display in full color by pulling a nylon stocking over the front of their TVs. Thousands of people tried it—until the gag was revealed as an April Fool’s hoax. Color TV finally came to Sweden 8 years later.

8.  Dick Smith Foods a brand name in Australia. In 1978, owner and millionaire Dick Smith contracted a barge to tow an iceberg from Antarctica into the Sydney Harbor. Smith said he would cut ice cubes from the iceberg and sell them for 10 cents a piece. The public eagerly followed the iceberg’s progress until rain washed off the shaving cream and firefighting foam that made up the exterior of the iceberg, which was really a combination of plastic and firefighting foam.

9.  Burger King ran a full-page ad in USA Today in 1998 unveiling the Left-Handed Whopper, a burger whose condiments were turned 180 degrees to benefit left-handed consumers. Burger King claimed that on the day of the joke, thousands of customers flocked to the chain to request the special Whoppers.

10.  The BBC has a reputation for April Fool’s stunts, but last year’s (2008) was one of the best. The British news station announced that an Antarctica-based film crew had filmed Adelie penguins taking flight. The video clip became an Internet sensation (watch it to see why).

I hope your April Fools day went well and there were some light hearted moments …. and some well thought out pranks.

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