In 1999, a ‘Star Trek’ actor had to write a magazine to prove he wasn’t online
Anyway, the 90s was also the time when anyone could sign an email with “Bill Gates” and people would say, “Holy shit, the real Bill Gates just wrote me to say my computer is going to explode if I don’t get this to 400 people in 30 seconds!” In 1994, a specific hoax email spread so widely that weeks later Microsoft had to issue a public statement saying that no, they didn’t buy the catholic church. It didn’t help that Rush Limbaugh read the email on the air and many of its listeners ended up outraged that the Church was giving Microsoft exclusive electronic rights to the Bible in exchange for stock and a title of “Senior VP of Religious Software” for the Pope John Paul II.
Ironically, while the internet has made identity theft much more prevalent (look at all those Twitter accounts sharing stolen jokes or self-help advice like “Bill Murray” or “Chris Rock”), it’s also much, much easier to demystify. Before, these scams could last decades — as the case of the guy who turned 30 pretending to be the buckwheat of our band and ended up going on ABC News’ 20/20 like him (the producer quit on it).
Even after being discovered, the guy insisted that no, he has been Buckwheat, and he didn’t care what his own orphaned son co-stars had to say. A prank like that would last about 30 minutes today. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have something to do: Neil Gaiman just offered us to join his new cryptocurrency venture through his secondary Instagram account without any followers.
To follow Maxwell Yezpitelokheroic effort to read and comment on every 90s Superman comic on Superman86to99.tumblr.com.
Top image: CBS Television Distribution