Geek Trivia

For Their April Fool’s Day Prank In 1965, The BBC Claimed They Could Wirelessly Transmit What?

Beatles' Concert Tickets
Which Tech Company Derives Its Name From A Mythical Creature?

Answer: Smells

In 1965, the BBC played a little April Fool’s Day prank on their viewers. During a news segment, news anchors interviewed a professor who explained that he had created a way to transmit smell through the airwaves and from the studio to the viewer’s living room by breaking down the molecules that created the scent and recreating them at the viewer’s television set.

To demonstrate, he chopped up an onion while brewing a pot of coffee. Hundreds of viewers called in from across Britain to report the experiment was successful and that the smell of coffee and onions was impressively clear. Now, while we may laugh at them from the present, we can at least give them a sympathetic nod or two. First, the power of suggestion is, well, enormously powerful. Second, the whole concept of scents being released during movies was in the public consciousness by 1965 (as various companies and movie studios had dabbled with and given public demonstrations of the technology at that point).

All told it was a well played but harmless prank and, one so fondly remembered, the BBC gave a nod to it by recreating the prank (only via their web page instead of news broadcast) in 2008.

Image by Evert F. Baumgardner.