10 Events That Actually Happened April 1st

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Happy April Fools' Day! And while today is a good day to be skeptical of any unusual news, do keep in mind that, sometimes, the truth is stranger than pranks. For instance, imagine it’s 1948, and you just heard that…

1. The universe was created by some sort of bang.

April 1, 1948: That was the conclusion of a paper published in the April 1st issue of scientific journal Physical Review in 1948. The paper—drably titled “The Origin of Chemical Elements”—didn’t actually use any terminology as zesty as “big bang” to describe its theory, but it furthered an idea that first popped up two decades earlier. As for the term “Big Bang,” that came later from cosmologist Fred Hoyle…one of the theory’s most vocal critics.

2. Meanwhile, across the universe…

April 1, 1970: The final Beatles recording session takes place at Abbey Road. However, the session only features one Beatle—Ringo—who was kind enough to provide some percussion for “The Long and Winding Road.” Ringo’s contributions took place alongside roughly 50 other instruments in a session being produced by Phil Spector. Paul McCartney hated the results so much, he officially broke up the band 10 days later.

3. “Uh, General Pickett? Your troops are getting slaughtered…”

April 1, 1865: The Confederacy suffers nearly 3000 casualties in a decisive Union victory in the Battle of Five Forks. It’s often called the “Waterloo of the Confederacy,” but it might not have been so bad if Major General George Pickett hadn’t been enjoying a leisurely luncheon with two other southern generals, oblivious to the Confederate carnage taking place two miles away.

4. Announcing: A computer in a wooden box with 4K of memory...

…all for the catchy price of $666.66. If this sounds like a sketchy investment, keep in mind the machine was being made by Apple—founded on April 1, 1976.

5. Ohio man decides to go for a walk … around the world.

April 1, 1983: Steve Newman leaves his house in the town of Bethel, Ohio for a 4-year journey that saw him getting mugged, pelted with stones, arrested multiple times, and attacked by boar and bison. Upon his return to Bethel on April 1, 1987, he became the first person to walk around the world solo. Unfortunately, Steve’s trek probably caused him to miss an unprecedented event in sports history…

6. A number 8 seed wins it all.

April 1, 1985: Villanova—a school that finished fourth in its own conference—defeats Patrick Ewing and the mighty Georgetown Hoyas to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament in the most famous upset in college hoops history. Villanova’s bracket-busting feat has yet to be replicated, and an eighth-seeded team has only reached the Finals once since. It was also the last college game to be played without a shot clock.

7. Same sex marriage is legalized.

April 1, 2001: The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage.

8. Google offers email with a gigabyte of storage.

April 1, 2004: Given Google's propensity for April Fools' Day pranks, plenty of people and media outlets assumed the company was just kidding. At the time, free e-mail with a whole gigabyte of storage was a completely new concept.

9. “Neither rain, nor d’oh...”

April 1, 2009: The USPS announced it was commemorating the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons with a 1-billion stamp run.  Alas, the stamps proved to be as popular as the Fat Elvis. Less than one third are sold, resulting in a $1.2 million loss for the USPS.

10. Happy Cheap Trick Day!

Through the efforts of state senator Dave Syverson, April 1 is now Cheap Trick Day in Illinois, in honor of the Rockford rock legends.  Even better: The 2008 resolution was signed by a guy who knew a thing or two about cheap tricks himself … disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich.

This post originally appeared last year.

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April 1, 2014 - 10:01am
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