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Archive of posts published in the category: Fools

Best April Fools' Day Pranks by and for Engineers

Write-Only-Memory (1972)

Let’s start with one of the classics from the early 1970’s, namely, the write-only-memory (WOM). It was the opposite of read-only-memory (ROM), which is used in all computer systems. The joke was that a WOM device could be written to but never read from memory. Initially, the WOM was used as a euphemism for a failed memory device.

The write-only-memory device first appeared in a practical joke data sheet from Signetics in 1972.  The company was a U.S. integrated circuit (IC) electronics manufacturer founded in 1961, which was bought by Philips in 1975 and incorporated into Philips Semiconductors (now NXP). Signetics was perhaps best known for its ubiquitous 555 timer IC.

As with most data sheet of the time, the Signetics sheet listed the characteristic curve of the useless device. But instead of the more conventional characteristic curves, the 25120 write-only-memory data sheet included meaningless diagrams of “bit

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