10 best techy April Fools' pranks through the ages

10 best techy April Fools' pranks through the ages

Summary: Don't worry, you won't see any April Fools' jokes here on ZDNet, but there have been some crackers over the years. Here's just a few.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

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  • 2. Toshiba Spectacle

    Toshiba "launched" something not so strange for this day and age, with Google Glass on deck, in form of a heads-up-display monocle device. Infused with 3D-technology, "Spectacle" used two triangular polarizing lenses melded in parallel and encased in lightweight tungsten carbide. But, of course, it didn't really exist. 

  • 3. Microsoft, Yahoo 'agree' on buyout price

    For years, rumors swirled that Microsoft might buy Yahoo. On April Fools' Day 2008, InfoWorld ran a piece that "confirmed" Microsoft would buy out the Web giant, including online properties and ad platform, along with its datacenters. All that for the handsome sum of $44.6 billion, it would have pegged at more than two-thirds of then Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates' personal wealth.

  • 4. The Guardian turns to tweet-like articles

    Twitter was already relatively popular by 2009 but was far from the platform that it is today. It was enough for London-based newspaper The Guardian to defect to a microblogging platform after 188 years of printed publications. The project would have involved rewriting the entire newspaper's archive, dating back to 1831, in 140 character tweets. "OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war," was one example given. 

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Guardian tweets

    Number 4 (the Guardian rewriting all of its archives as tweets) sounds like something that The Onion would do.
  • The Monocle

    About 10 years ago at CES I got to demo a wearable computer where the display was a monocle worn that projected images straight to your retina (the first true "retina" display I suppose, even if the graphics were all monochrome). The primary use was to project data and schematics "hands free," but it was very much like having Terminator vision. A colleague was investigating buying those so mechanics at his company could work on locomotives without having to constantly refer to printed documents. I was cool, but I'd have wanted it mounted in standard glasses (even if only one side is doing anything) as only Col. Klink could pull off the monocle look with grace and style.
  • awwww

    "Don't worry, you won't see any April Fools' jokes here on ZDNet"


    No sense of humor, eh?
    • CobraA1....but of course you'll see April fools jokes on Zdnet

      Loverock Davidson claims that Surface RT is number One......now that's a real April fools joke now isn't it?

      Old Loverock should get top prize for that one.....................
      Over and Out
  • Gmail Tap

    Gmail Tap was one of my favorites: https://mail.google.com/mail/help/promos/tap/
  • 8-Bit Maps

    Can you still access the 8-bit google maps anywhere, like in the wayback machine? It was my favorite prank and one I actually really liked.
  • Pokester launch

    The Pokester.me launch definitely belongs on this list --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYXcTAIdV08&feature=youtu.be
    Jessie Jane
  • Back in the 70's...

    I was administrator of main-frame software called TPX, at Firestone Tire & Rubber (now Bridgestone). One of its functions provided a "splash screen" appearing at log on to deliver timely messages, reminders, etc. This system was used by about 90% of all office personnel. My splash message indicated the ENTIRE mainframe system needed shut down for maintenance between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day, effectively hitting every user across the country at some time. The "April Fool" message was (I thought) craftily hidden so that it couldn't be seen until the user hit the "Enter" key after seeing the first screen. Our Help desk, and upper management got SO MANY protest calls from people who didn't get to the second screen, I had to remove the message after less than an hour! Nearly cost me my job!
    ...Bob Weber
    • My own BOFH moment

      Or moments, since I pranked the same idiot, twice. The first was after reading a helpful article in PC Magazine about editing command.com and changing background and foreground colors (this was back when DOS was king). So I tried it on the victim, setting both values to black.

      The second time was his boss, a friend going back to high school days, was showing him a complex spreadsheet that included among other things the bill of materials for construction a particular piece of industrial equipment we produced. It was a large spreadsheet, and was slow to run off the primitive network back in the day. So he suggested the idiot download the files to his PC so he could work on them locally. Before he had a chance to, I hid the network directory containing these files. As the idiot was furiously typing, trying to find the directory, I managed to clue in my friend, who played along and told the idiot he's in deep s**t if he doesn't find those files -- it took two weeks to create them. After several more minutes of panic-typing, the idiot stormed out of the room. When he came back, looking defeated, I asked him what the problem was. He said these files had disappeared. I calmly instructed him to change to the directory and type dir to display the contents. Of course, while he was away, I unhid the folder. He followed my instructions, and the files all appeared. Exasperated, he said, "but they weren't here a minute ago!"

      When he left the company, I told him we will miss the fun times we had, and confessed to both of those incidents. The look on his face suggested he might have actually crapped his pants on the second one. Unsurprisingly, I never heard from him again.
  • My Favorite - Google TiSP

    .. Google advertised the soon to be released Toilet internet Service Provider service. That was a blast.
  • Destroy the Earth with a 555 timer

    My favorite "oldie" was the applications note that showed how to connect a 555 timer chip to a stake driven into the ground and set up a resonant vibration that shook the planet apart.