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Top five online April Fools' pranks

Google, Facebook, and others take the top ranks of our favorite tech April Fools' pranks of all time.

By Matthew Shaer / March 31, 2010

Friday is April Fools' Day. To celebrate, we remember our favorite tech April Fools' pranks.

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April Fools' Day has been around at least a couple of centuries, but in recent years, it's become a favorite holiday of web-savvy pranksters, who every April 1 set out to hoax, tease, or otherwise bewilder nerds across the globe. From upside-down streaming video and helicopter hotels to a Desktop Zero-Point Infinite Power Generator, here's a look at some of our favorite digital April Fools' pranks.

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• On April 1, 2008, Google and Virgin joined forces for an April Fools' prank of epic proportions. In a promo emblazoned across the Google search page, the two companies unveiled "Virgle: The Adventure of Many Lifetimes." Virgle, Google promised, would ensure the colonization of the planet Mars. Motto: "Things will get better, eventually."

• Forget that boring old poke feature. In 2007, Facebook rolled out a functionality called LivePoke, which promised to dispatch a real person to poke a friend of your choice. Unfortunately, LivePoke was limited to the first 100 users in any given network. No word on how all that poking played out.

• In 2004, the very real website ThinkGeek began selling a very fake Desktop Zero-Point Infinite Power Generator, which harnesses the "seething abundant energy" of the universe, and cranks out 120 Volts of electricity. "ThinkGeek recommends you drain the unit's non-volatile waste chamber once every three months, and dispose of the tritium/deuterium slurry at a licensed disposal facility," ThinkGeek's promo copy notes. Sound crazy? "We've had people e-mailing us from all over the world telling us they were very interested in it," ThinkGeek buyer Scott Smith told Wired.

• Last year, an advertisement for the "Hotelicopter" hit the web. "The Hotelicopter features 18 luxuriously-appointed rooms for adrenaline junkies seeking a truly unique and memorable travel experience," an advertisement promised. Consumers were invited to pre-book a 16 day tour of Europe in this "flying five star hotel." Not for the airsick.

• That same year, the UK paper the Guardian announced that it was eliminating its print edition – and going "Twitter-only." A Guardian spokesman said that the broadsheet would seek to reduce all of its back-catalog to 140-character blasts. "For example," the Guardian noted, "Martin Luther King's legendary 1963 speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial appears in the Guardian's Twitterised archive as 'I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by,' eliminating the waffle and bluster of the original."

Check out more from 2009 here and tell us what we missed? Drop us a line in the comments section with your favorite April Fools' Day tech pranks, and we'll post the best.

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