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Best April Fools' Day Pranks by and for Engineers

In these tumultuous times of the coronavirus and economic uncertainty, a few laughs from the past might be just what the doctor ordered.

In these days of fake news, it may be hard to remember a time – one day per year – when cleverly crafted fake products and tech news stories were anticipated with relish, namely, on April Fools’ Day. Many of the best pranks came from the tech community, but this tradition may be changing.

In 2019, Microsoft called off its practical jokes for April Fools’ Day. In an email to employees, the company’s marketing chief wrote that, “these stunts have a limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles.”

This year, Google’s Head of Marketing Lorraine Twohill wrote in an internal email: “Under normal circumstances April Fool's [sic] is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company. This year, we're going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Who could argue with those sentiments? Still, laughter can often lift the spirits and provide hope. These are the reasons for this collection of some of the best techie related April Fools’ Day pranks, starting with some engineering classics from the earliest days of the Internet leading up to last year's best stories. Please don’t hesitate to share some of your own favorite pranks in the comments section.

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

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