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Home / Tips and Tricks / For their April Fool's joke in April 1965, the BBC claimed they could transmit something wirelessly.

For their April Fool's joke in April 1965, the BBC claimed they could transmit something wirelessly.



  Mid-Century Family Watching TV on a Black and White TV Set
Evert F. Baumgardner

Answer: Smells

In 1965, the BBC played a small prank for the April Fools joke among its viewers. During a news segment, newscasters interviewed a professor who said he had created a way to airborne smells from the studio into the viewer's living room by breaking the smells into their component molecules and rebuilding the smells on the viewer's TV [1

9659005] To demonstrate, he chopped an onion while brewing a pot of coffee. Hundreds of spectators came from all over the UK to report that the experiment was successful and that the smell of coffee and onions was impressively clear. Well, while we can laugh about them from the present, we can at least give them one or two sympathetic nods. First, the power of suggestion is very strong. Second, the whole concept of fragrances released during the films was public awareness in 1965 (as various companies and film studios had been working on the technology back then). These included Smell-O-Rama in the 1950s and Smell-O-Vision in the 1960s.

The fascination of the trick is that it was not a one-off experiment in the power of suggestion. A decade later, in 1977, a professor at Bristol University, Michael O'Mahony, replicated the effect with audiences in the Manchester area by telling them in the late-night news that he was transmitting "pleasant country scents" to them. He asked the audience to call and report what they had smelled. Nearly 200 made the smell of flowers, baking bread, hay and more within the next 24 hours. Two of the callers even said they were allergic to the smell of hay.


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