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April Fool's Day, 1981
The 26-Day Marathon. (1981) The Daily Mail ran a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles.
The Daily Mail showed pictures of Nakajimi running and reported that he was still somewhere out on the roads of England, determined to finish the race. Supposedly he had been spotted occasionally, still running.
The translation error was attributed to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who said, "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there."
Dunagin’s People. (1981)
CBS Newsmen Buy Local Weekly. (1981) The Connecticut Gazette, a weekly paper based in Old Lyme, Connecticut, announced it was being purchased by the CBS newsmen Walter Cronkite and Charles Kuralt, who owned a vacation home in nearby Essex, Connecticut. Although the story was not true, it was picked up by the New York Post and run as fact several months later. The Post was forced to admit its blunder several days later.
The British Weather Machine. (1981) The Guardian reported that scientists at Britain's research labs in Pershore had "developed a machine to control the weather." A series of articles explained that, "Britain will gain the immediate benefit of long summers, with rainfall only at night, and the Continent will have whatever Pershore decides to send it." Readers were also assured that Pershore scientists would make sure that it snowed every Christmas in Britain. A photograph showed a scruffy-looking scientist surrounded by scientific equipment, with the caption, "Dr. Chisholm-Downright expresses quiet satisfaction as a computer printout announces sunshine in Pershore and a forthcoming blizzard over Marseilles."
The Amazing Apple-Pip. (1981) Computer manufacturer Microsense ran an ad in The Guardian announcing the "Apple-Pip," which it described as "an amazing breakthrough in computer miniaturisation."
"The new Apple-Pip is a tiny computer only 3/4" high which you can grow to full size in your own garden in just seven days. Simply sow the Apple-Pip in fertile soil during a guaranteed sunshine week, cover lightly with a soft mulch of old unpaid invoices, inaccurate stock control sheets and outdated sales forecasts — and wait to be amazed. In two days, the monitor screen will break surface. In seven days your new computer will be fully grown and ready for use. And that's not all! If you leave the fully grown computer in the soil for 3 more days it will run to seed! In no time at all, you can equip every branch of your business from just one Apple-Pip!!"
The Black-Hole Diode. (1981) Byte Magazine, in its What's New column, described a useful new computer component, the 7N-∞ BHD (black-hole diode):
"Another new addition in the small-components market is the 7N-∞ BHD (black-hole diode). This device has two inputs and no output. Care must be taken to shield this component appropriately or it may absorb the unit it is placed in. The 7N-∞ will accept any voltage or current value. It is useful for GI (garbage-in) applications. Due to the light-absorption qualities of the device, we could not provide a photograph. Contact Spatial Regression Ltd, POB 463, Paulborough NH 03458."
The Michigan Shark Experiment. (1981) The Herald-News in Roscommon, Michigan reported that 3 lakes in northern Michigan had been selected to host "an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks." Two thousand sharks were to be released into the lakes including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment was designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of Michigan, and apparently the federal government was spending $1.3 million to determine this. A representative from the National Biological Foundation was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the lake because "the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older."
County officials were said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to fishermen and swimmers, but their complaints had been ignored by the federal government. Furthermore, fishermen had been forbidden from catching the sharks. The report concluded by again quoting the National Biological Foundation representative, who said that "We can't be responsible for people if they are attacked. Besides, anyone foolish enough to believe all this deserves to be eaten."
KNOSH Food Network. (1981) On Cable magazine reporter Peter Funt announced the creation of the first 24-hour a day cable food network called KNOSH.
(Apparently the idea of a 24-hour a day food network seemed silly in the days before Emeril Lagasse.)