10 best techy April Fools' pranks through the ages
1. Google Maps 8-bit
Google transformed its Maps app into an 8-bit version "designed for the Nintendo Entertainment System," similar to that of a Mario-like adventure game. Dubbed "Quest," Google's April Fools' prank for 2012 converted ordinary maps into a clunky, low-resolution mapping application, launching many back into the early 1990s.
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.
5. Apple 'patents' rectangles
Apple already has the rounded rectangle patent, but in 2012 popular technology news site The Register "reported" that Apple had patented the actual rectangle shape. It came around the time that Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs was publicized amid Jobs' claims he would "go to thermonuclear war" over patents. Simply put, while untrue, the site summed it up in a single line: "Yes, Apple is asserting a patent on the rectangle." The actual patent claimed in the article relates to air-valve fobs for radiators.
6. Warner Bros. acquires The Pirate Bay
TorrentFreak said in 2009 that, amid piracy suits and counter-letters from the rogue file-sharing site, that Warner Bros. had acquired The Pirate Bay in a deal worth $13 billion. It was of course a prank pulled in good humor by the piracy-enabling site, used by millions worldwide to download the latest movies, music and television. Oh, and porn. Lots and lots of porn.
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.
10. Amazon puts cloud computing servers in the real cloud
Amazon may be a bit fusty in the enterprise space with little but business to go on, but its cloud-based platform division thought it would liven things up for 2009's April Fools' Day by announcing it would take its cloud computing platform to the actual clouds. The plan would be to deliver servers running EC2 instances connected via WiMAX (the alternative to LTE) and lasers to communicate with ground. Alas, it was pure rubbish but Amazon still pulled a good one.
Bonus: Conficker a bust, fails to do anything
There's a bonus: the Conficker worm. The kicker here is that it was actually real and set to 'blow up' on April 1, 2009. But nothing actually happened. The worm spread through machines across the world and was set to activate and receive instructions, in what was thought to be one of the largest botnets of the time, but command servers never sent the instructions. While most weren't laughing, it turned out to be on the most part a busted flush.