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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  • 7. CatBlock blocks ads with cats

    Millions use AdBlock around the world to block annoying Flash and image-based advertisements on websites. For April Fools' Day, the creators of the popular Chrome and Safari plugin replaced ads with pictures of cats -- transforming some of the most popular sites on the Web with kitty-based imagery. But the prank was such so successful that it was spun out as a separate project and made available to the public.

  • 8. Hulu jumps back to '1996' era

    Hulu has alwas kept ahead of the technological curve, except for April Fools' Day 2011 when the site reverted back to how it might have looked in pre-Web 2.0 days. With older fonts, such as Times New Roman, and poor graphics and animated GIFs, along with two buttons at the bottom for Netscape and Internet Explorer, the video streaming network pulled off a prank that likely made many to think back to the warm and comforting days of CompuServe and AOL. 

  • 9. FCC 'may fine' then-Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz over swearing

    Yahoo's former chief executive Carol Bartz was famed above many thing for swearing following a mini tirade at former TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington. To get in on the joke and turn what could've been a bit of a tricky public relations problem into something funny for April Fools' Day in 2010, the Web giant published a piece on claims the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) was "looking into" her swearing after she allegedly swore incessantly on television. But, as with many of these jokes, it never actually happened.

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.