Tech hoaxes, scams, urban legends, and practical jokes

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet. Yet so many people do!

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2013: The year of the hoax?

An airplane note-passing fight made up by a producer of the Bachelor. A twerking-gone-wrong video that turned out to be made by late night host Jimmy Kimmel. A comedian tricked by another comedian running a fake Twitter account for Picante Salsa. Some might say that 2013 was the year of the hoax online. But longtime Internet denizens know that hoaxes and trickery focused on technology have been with us for much longer than the Web.

This originally appeared on ITworld.com.

Credit: SVT archive
Do-it-yourself Swedish color TV

You can't blame the Swedes for wanting more out of television in 1962; after all, they had access to only a single government-run channel, which broadcast in black and white. That sounds boring and it probably was, but the people running the channel apparently had enough of a sense of humor to put on a show on explaining, with lots of sciencey-sounding gibberish, how viewers at home could turn their sets into color TVs just by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. It didn't work, naturally, but the announcers dragged things out by telling viewers they had to be watching at just the right angle. Perhaps the April 1 broadcast date should've been a clue.

kremvax

Today we take it for granted that the Internet spans the world and just about every nation has access to standard computer equipment. But in 1984, the nascent Internet community on Usenet was genuinely shocked to see a message from Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko, announcing that the Russians not only had access to Unix computers, but had set up a VAX site called kremvax to foster understanding across the Iron Curtain. Two weeks later, the Dutch prankster who has been the real author of the messages fessed up. The Russians really did get on Usenet in 1990 -- and to honor the epic hoax, they named their first connected Unix server kremvax.

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