35 years of 'Apple' Fools Day fun

A look at April Fools' Day through Apple-colored glasses

April Fools Day - Apple

Today is Apple's 35th birthday, as the company was launched on April 1, 1976.

Today is also April Fools' Day, of course.

(2012's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

And while Apple has in no way embraced April Fools' Day with the vigor of a Google, using the latter's search engine for a few hours does turn up a bushel of Apple-related April Fools' Day foolishness. In reverse chronological order:

April 1, 1989: Clarus the Dogcow

The oldest I could find and one of the best, this submission was fashioned as the now legendary TechNote No. 31 by Mark "The Red" Harlan and delivered to the Apple developer community through its monthly bulletin. Purporting to tell the story behind the dog-and-cow-like image used by Apple for various purposes since 1983, it begins:

Recently we've been getting a lot of questions about the dogcow in (Developer Technical Support). The purpose of this Technical Note is to clear up any confusion that you may have, and more importantly, to get you to quit bugging me about it.

(Steve Jobs and his gadgets ... in LEGO)

What is a Dogcow? I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard this question--by now I'd have enough money to buy a "Changing the world, one person at a time" bumper sticker. Dogcows, by their nature, are not all dog, nor are they all cow, but they are a special genetic hybrid. They are rarely seen in the wild. Since dogcows are two dimensional, they will stand facing a viewer "on edge" to avoid being seen.

Harlan went on to reveal for the first time that Apple's Dogcow has a name, Clarus. Today, Clarus has her own online "museum," which you may browse at your leisure here.

April 1, 1990: Rosebud Technology

The Loma Prieta earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989 not only killed 63 people, injured 3,800 and disrupted baseball's World Series, it pushed San Francisco's Macworld Expo from the following January to April 1, 1990.  David Morgenstern recounts one of the results:

Rosebud seemed to be everywhere at the Expo, with t-shirts, press releases, and a booth that was very hard to find, even though signs and flyers directed interested parties to the booth.

The principal products in the Rosebud line were PowerLink and Silicon Valet. PowerLink was supposedly an Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) device that would allow a Mac to communicate with another Mac, or printer, over the existing electrical wiring in a building. ... Silicon Valet (pronounced Val-lay, get it) was an "elegantly simple engineering breakthrough" that connected your Mac to any phone plug or AC wall outlet. This would allow your Mac to control any connected electrical device, using its SLED, or SmartNode Logic Emulation Driver software. Movie buffs remember that Rosebud was really the brand of sled that Kane rode as a kid.

(I never much cared for that movie.)

April 1, 1992: Caffeine Manager

This one comes in the form of a "press release" touting a new Macintosh extension called Caffeine Manager:

CUPERTINO, California--April 1, 1992--Apple Computer, Inc., made a major addition to the software that runs the Macintosh computer today with the release of the Caffeine Manager, an extension to System 7.0 that allows all Macintosh computers to interface cleanly and easily with such devices as coffee percolators and soda machines.

"We're really excited about this release," says Mike "Ro" Soft of Apple DTS (Drink The Soda). 

Mike "Ro" Soft?

Best can do?

April 1, 1997: Fixing your computers the manly way

MacTech Magazine sees your power tools and raises you a .45 caliber handgun:

I know what you must be thinking, "what is he doing messing around with a loaded gun?" Well, remember, we are manly men, and we do stupid things. Fortunately, when the gun went off, it only hit the LQ. It went right through the back of his lovely printer, passing through the mechanism without touching a thing, and came out the top. Turning the printer on to check for damage, he attempted to print a page. You guessed it, everything worked great!

Then they start doing things you really shouldn't do to computers.

April 1, 2000: Deep Space Mac

Tom Iovino at ATPM (About This Particular Macintosh) has a scoop:

Yup, according to rumors, NASA is going Apple.

Let me begin by telling you how I came by this information. One of my good friends from my college days is an employee with the Jet Propulsion Laboratories. His duties at JPL involve the ground guidance package of the Hubble Space Telescope. We have kept in touch since graduation, and, every so often, I give him a call just to make sure the telescope hasn't crashed or anything strange like that.

Pro-tip: Any story that begins "a college buddy of mine tells me" is suspect 365 days a year.

April 1, 2001: Merger mania

This one would become half-true in 2005. From Sharpened.net:

In a surprise move today, Adobe Systems announced it would aquire its main competitor, Macromedia. When asked why the merger took place, Adobe replied, "Macromedia has stolen so many of our ideas that we decided to just steal their entire company."

After finding out about the merger, Apple Computer decided to jump on the bandwagon and aquire the new Adobe-Macromedia entity. In a press conference, Steve Jobs stated, "Without those two companies, we would have gone under a long time ago. I just felt it was my duty to pay them back by buying them out."

Are real mergers even allowed on April Fools' Day? I'm thinking the SEC or someone would frown upon the practice.

April 1, 2002: What took so long?

There's not believable and then there's don't-even-joke-about-that not believable. James K. Searles writes in an ActiveWin.com "Exclusive:"

Microsoft today announced its plans acquire operating system competitor Apple Computer Corp. in a bold move that raises a series of antitrust questions. The proposed all stock purchase will result in Apple becoming a division of the Redmond, Washington software giant and retaining its offices in California. The Apple division, which will be renamed Microsoft User Design Research and Development, will be responsible for designing the user interface for the upcoming Longhorn O/S.

When asked about Apples computer hardware division, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, "Microsoft will benefit from our long experience in desktop and laptop design."

Bill Gates was said to be "overjoyed." I'll bet.

April 1, 2003: Safari-only

This one from Star Trek Minutiae just overflowed with geeky fun:

After neglecting to plan a prank for April Fools Day 2002, I resolved to find something really fun for my 2003 joke. In February, I first started working on finding ways to preserve my bandwidth from illegal hotlinking by using the Apache mod_rewrite module. Although I didn't start working on a joke at the time, I was very intrigued by the module's ability to discern a visitor's browser (aka "user agent") and make changes to web pages based on the browser. Being an ardent Macintosh fan, I got the idea of a pro-Mac April Fools Day joke.

Apple's new Safari browser came out in January, and I'd been using it as my default browser almost since the day it came out. Although close to 95% of all my visitors are on the Windows platform, I thought it would be fun to thumb my nose at the Microsoft Monopoly and make my site for Mac users only. And so after learning how to set up the server redirect with mod_rewrite, I set a condition that any visitor not using Safari would be automatically shunted away from my front page and confronted with an ominous notice about changing my site management policy. If anyone took the time to read the notice and did not immediately realize what day it was, I expect they were first annoyed, then confused, and then completely befuddled.

Comes with complete instructions.

Jobs resigns

So says Chuck La Tournous on RandomMaccess:

"I blew it. It's as simple as that," said a visibly upset Steve Jobs as he announced he would step down as head of Apple, the company he co-founded on this day over 25 years ago.

Sounds just like Steve.

April 1, 2004: "Wicked fast" G5 Cubed

MacWorld cranks the dial up to 11:

Cupertino, CA -- April 1, 2004 -- Apple today announced its first-ever triple-CPU system, the PowerMac G5 Cubed. Featuring a total of three G5 processors, the G5 Cubed offers unmatched desktop processing power. "It's clearly the fastest thing we've ever made, and it's head and shoulders above anything the Wintel world has to offer," said Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs.

 It was almost magical.

April 1, 2005: Ikea, DVD Jon and Tiger

Andrew Orlowski of The Register reports: "IKEA's flatpack days may soon be a distant memory, as Apple and Pixar founder Steve Jobs turns to his latest challenge." TechTree has another personnel move: "If you can't beat them hire them: This seems to be Apple's new motto. The reason being, it has hired DVD Jon. The very same Jon, who's broken into iTunes thrice giving them sleepless nights."  And MacDailyNews reminds us that there really was a time when a brand like Apple would want to be associated with a brand like Tiger Woods.

April 1, 2006: White flag and a false start

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) calls it quits: "In an unexpected turn of events, today the popular Apple enthusiast weblog, TUAW, announced that it's closing its doors, effective immediately. The unending barrage of negative comments over the last few months has driven the TUAW bloggers to take this unusual step." Another premature one, this time from MacDailyNews: "Apple today introduced The Beatles iPod Special Edition as part of a partnership between Apple, The Beatles and Apple Records (Apple Corps) to create innovative new products together for the new digital music era."

April 1, 2007: Strange bedfellows and 'an apology'

Orlowski of makes his Jobs-to-work-at-Ikea piece seem downright plausible by comparison: "Apple and Google have abandoned their individual mobile phone projects for a joint venture, The Register has learned." Robert Scoble's "report" about a new iReader collaboration effort between Apple, Amazon, Google and Cingular forced him to follow up with: "Some people didn't get that this entire post was an April Fools' joke. Sorry for being too realistic."

April 1, 2008: They must be on drugs

For anyone who retains any doubt as to why Apple products seem so addictive, this post on DownloadSquad provides the answer in a mere three letters: LSD. "Steve Wozniak Announces the 2 GHz Apple IIpc," reports Vintage Computing and Gaming. And MacWorld brings us news that Apple has lost in court to that other Apple and now must change its name to a different kind of fruit.

April 1, 2009: Simply fabulous

Technologizer's stroll down memory lane - "Technologizer's First Forty-Five Fabulous Years" - was fabulous on a number of levels, including an advertisement for the 1979 debut of the Apple II-Phone: "Precisely 28 years ahead of its time."

April 1, 2010: Oh, that tablet

The teardown team at iFixit did its typically masterful job deconstructing an Apple tablet: "Apple definitely snuck away some interesting tidbits inside -- things they didn't want people to know prior to release. Initially we thought the battery was going to be difficult to take out, but boy were we wrong!"

And there will be plenty of new ones to choose from today.

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