The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Prof. Wingard's Death Ray Hoax, 1876
Jennifer Love Hewitt's Disappearing Breasts
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
The Case of the Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
Stotham, Massachusetts: the town that didn't exist, 1920
The Hoaxing Hitchhiker, 1941
Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
Telepathic E-Mail -- April Fool's Day, 1999
Red Herring Magazine ran an article profiling a revolutionary new internet technology called Orecchio (Italian for "ear"). This technology used the TIDE communications protocol (short for "Telepathic Internet Data Exchange") to allow users to compose and send e-mail telepathically. To e-mail telepathically users would wear a device nestled between their ear and skull. The company developing this device was Tidal Wave Communications, led by Yuri Maldini, a computer genius from Estonia. Adding credibility to the story was a reference to some real research at Emory University in which researchers had allowed a paralyzed man to move a cursor across a computer screen by implanting a device in his brain. Mr. Maldini, who had once been employed by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, claimed that he had developed the idea for Orecchio from the encrypted communications systems he had put in place during the Gulf War and the conflict in Somalia. Nevertheless, despite the revolutionary potential of telepathic e-mail, skeptics abounded. Clarence Madison, managing partner of New World Associates, was quoted as saying, "I know crap when I see it. This is crap." Ignoring such critics, Mr. Maldini was pressing ahead with his plans to commercialize Orecchio. He even was anticipating future features such as telepathic web browsers and word processors and the ability to receive e-mail telepathically as well as send it.

At the end of the Red Herring article the reporter recalled a moment when he asked Mr. Maldini how big the market for such a product might be: "Mr. Maldini falls silent. He stares vacantly for several moments out his office window and then says, 'I just sent you an email with my answer.' Upon returning to our office, we find the response waiting: 'It's going to be huge,' reads the email. 'Simply huge.'" Red Herring received numerous letters from readers admitting they had been fooled by the article.

This is the same joke from the 1967 movie The President's Analyst, only it was phones instead of e-mail.
Posted by Eric Gregory  in  San Francisco  on  Thu Apr 13, 2006  at  01:41 PM
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