On this day, April 1

Steve Jobs, above, and his pals have a good idea. Picture: EPA

Steve Jobs, above, and his pals have a good idea. Picture: EPA

Published Apr 1, 2024


Origins of April Fool’s Day, the South African police is founded, as is the navy, don’t get within 2 feet of nude dancers and Wimbledon is cancelled – and that’s no joke!

1700 English pranksters begin popularising the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People slow to get the news or who failed to recognise that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and who continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through to April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. The day is not a public holiday in any country except Odessa, Ukraine, where it is a city holiday and has the local name Humorina.

1863 The city’s first tramway company, the Cape Town and Green Point Tramway Company, begins operations.

1888 The British ship Fairholme, en route from Calcutta to New York, runs ashore east of Buffels Bay, on the southern Cape coast.

1905 “SOS” is first adopted as a morse distress signal by the German government.

1913 The South African Police, fore-runner of the South African Police Service, is founded.

1922 Birth of the South African Navy with the founding of the South African Naval Service.

1945 US forces invade Okinawa in the largest and bloodiest amphibious Pacific assault.

1976 Apple Inc. is formed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in the garage of Jobs’ parents in Cupertino, California.

1990 It becomes illegal in Salem, Oregon, to be within 2 feet of nude dancers.

1991 The Warsaw Pact officially dissolves.

1994 Soldiers roll into Natal to quell unrest threatening the national election.

2004 Google, the world’s most used web-based search engine, announces a free email service, Gmail, to the public, thinking it an April Fool’s joke.

2014 Nato suspends all practical civilian and military co-operation with Russia.

2017 Bob Dylan finally picks up his Nobel Prize for Literature at a private Stockholm ceremony.

2019 Saudi Arabian oil company Saudi Aramco becomes the world’s most profitable firm when its earnings – $111.1 billion – are revealed.

2019 US online sales overtake retail sales.

2020 The Wimbledon tennis tournament is cancelled for the first time since World War II because of the Covid-19 pandemic; the entire grass-court season is abandoned.

2020 US President Donald Trump says the US Strategic National Stockpile is almost depleted amid widespread shortages of medical equipment to fight Covid-19.