2021 Apr 2, 10:18am
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On April Fools' Day 1996, exactly 25 years ago today, some Microsoft coworkers and I launched a complex and costly prank. We printed up hundreds of realistic shrink-wrapped boxes of a fake product, “Microsoft Coffee”, and snuck it into stores all around the Seattle area. Customers were confused, retail was upset, the local news and tech media covered it. So Microsoft’s PR flacks freaked out and covered it up. They scooped up all remaining boxes, denied Microsoft did the prank, and downplayed the scale of it to the media, and imposed a ban on real-world pranks, ensuring all pranks from then on would need to go through them, as virtual press releases. I’ve been carrying the secret for 25 years. Today, I'm coming clean. This is the untold true story of a corporate April Fools' prank gone wrong.