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Webnode -- April Fool's Day, 1999
A press release issued over Business Wire announced the creation of Webnode, a new company recently granted a government contract to regulate ownership of "nodes" on the Next Generation Internet (NGI). Each of these nodes (there were said to be over 50 million of them) represented a route that data could travel over the NGI. The company was licensed to sell each node for $100. Nodes would increase in value depending on how much traffic they routed. Owners would also receive usage fees for the data that flowed across their section of the internet. However, only individuals could own nodes, and no person could own more than 1,000 nodes. This limit was supposedly made in order to avoid monopolization of the internet by large corporations.
Although Webnode was not yet a publicly trade company, the press release declared that shares in the company could be reserved for later purchase, although no payment would currently be accepted. Because the Next Generation Internet was a real government project, many were led to believe that Webnode was also real (which, of course, it wasn't). Business Wire, however, didn't find the prank amusing. It sued the creators of the press release.
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