April Fool's Day, 1982
The Interfering Brassieres
The British Daily Mail
published an article claiming that 10,000 brassieres made by a local manufacturer had developed a serious problem. Apparently the support wire in the bras had been fashioned out of specially treated copper. This copper wire had originally been designed for use in fire alarms, but when it came into contact with nylon and body heat, it was producing static electricity. This static electricity, in turn, was then being emitted by thousands of unsuspecting women and was interfering with the broadcast of television signals. As the article put it, "Widespread television interference, which has brought complaints from viewers all over Britain in recent weeks, is being caused not by unusual atmospheric conditions, but by 10,000 'rogue' bras." Many people believed the article including, apparently, the chief engineer of British Telecom who upon reading it immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.
Tass Expands into American Market
The Connecticut Gazette and Connecticut Compass, weekly newspapers serving the Old Lyme and Mystic areas, both announced that they were being purchased by Tass, the official news agency of the Soviet Union. On their front pages they both declared that this was "the first expansion of the Soviet media giant outside of the Iron Curtain." The article also revealed that after Tass had purchased the Compass, its two publishers had both been killed by "simultaneous hunting accidents" in which they had shot each other in the back of the head with "standard-issue Soviet Army rifles." An accompanying picture showed Gazette and Compass staff members wearing winter coats and fur hats, and carrying hockey sticks and bottles of vodka. The announcement itself was bylined "By John Reed," and the new publisher, Vydonch U. Kissov, announced that the paper would be "thoroughly red." A new delivery system was also promised: cruise missiles (the publisher then admitted that this proposal was a 'leetle Soviet joke.') In response to the news, the offices of the Compass and the Gazette received calls offering condolences for the death of the publishers. One caller also informed them that he had long suspected them of harboring communist tendencies, and that it was only a matter of time before all the papers in the country were communist-controlled. When the publishers tried to explain that the article had been an April Fool's prank, the caller replied, "You expect me to believe a bunch of Commies?"
Athens Pollution Alert
Greece's state-controlled National Radio Network issued a warning that pollution had reached emergency levels in downtown Athens, and that the city would have to be immediately evacuated. All schools were called upon to close immediately, and the children to be sent home. Furthermore, anyone driving a car was asked to abandon it and flee to open ground. Many people took the broadcast seriously and attempted to leave the city, since pollution is a serious problem in Athens. Within three hours the Radio Network had retracted the broadcast, revealing it to be a joke, but by then the damage had been done. One man sued the network for $820,000, claiming the prank had caused him mental distress. The director of the network submitted his resignation over the incident, and the originator of the hoax was fired.
Hong Kong Powdered Water
The South China Morning Post announced that a solution to Hong Kong's water shortage was at hand. Scientists, it said, had found a way to drain the clouds surrounding the island's peak of their water by electrifying them via antennae erected on the peak. The paper warned that this might have a negative impact on surrounding property values, but the government had approved the project nevetheless. Furthermore, more clouds could be attracted to the region by means of a weather satellite positioned over India. And finally, as a back-up, packets of powdered water imported from China would be distributed to all the residents of Hong Kong. A single pint of water added to this powdered water would magically transform into ten pints of drinkable water. Hong Kong's radio shows were flooded with calls all day from people eager to discuss these solutions to the water shortage. Many of the calls were very supportive of the plans, but one woman pointed out that the pumps needed to supply powdered water would be too complicated and expensive.
The Laytonsville Dump Stadium
State Senator Victor Crawford of Montgomery, Maryland introduced a bill into the Maryland senate proposing that his district receive $45 million to buy the Baltimore Colts and build a new stadium for them at the Laytonsville dump site in upper Montgomery County.
The TNBC Network
On Cable magazine reported that Turner Broadcasting was going to merge with NBC. The new logo of the resulting company (TNBC) would show a peacock wearing Ted Turner's trademark railroad engineer's cap. Ted Turner would personally add some variety to the new company's entertainment lineup by co-hosting a country music show called "Atlanta Howdown" with Slim Whitman and Barbara Mandrell. On Cable magazine reportedly received angry phone calls from executives at both NBC and TNT complaining that their management had taken such a step without informing them first.
The 5 Megabyte Hard Drive
Byte Magazine announced the introduction of a 5-megabyte hard disk drive for the portable Timex/Sinclair 1000. Hundreds of readers wrote to the magazine requesting more information. (in 1982 a 5 megabyte hard drive for a portable computer seemed so outlandishly large to the editors of Byte magazine that they didn't imagine that anyone would believe the story. The portable computer I'm typing this on today in 2001 has a 1 gigabyte hard drive, and that's now considered small).
Text copyright © 2002 Alex Boese