Did Abraham Lincoln Invent Facebook?
Springfield Gazette: Abraham Lincoln's Facebook Patent Application
What would you say if we told you that Abraham Lincoln filed a patent for Facebook in 1845? Well, we're not telling you that, but Nate St. Pierre is. It all started with a road trip.
When geeks go off the grid, they can become even more capable of great feats of geekery. During a countryside drive, blogger and biz-dev consultant Nate St. Pierre ended up in a circus graveyard, where an epitaph suggested a connection between Abraham Lincoln and famed con artist/entrepreneur P.T. Barnum.
Nate St. Pierre, intrigued by a possible connection between Lincoln and Barnum, visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. There he found an article in the Springfield Gazette that described Abraham Lincoln's visit to one of P.T. Barnum's circuses. St. Pierre noticed something odd, though: the entire Springfield Gazette was a single broadsheet page, and only featured stories about Lincoln.
Turns out that the Springfield Gazette was not a newspaper at all, but a pictorial addendum to a patent application. (In real life, Abraham Lincoln had earlier purchased the Springfield Gazette when it was a newspaper aimed at German immigrants.)
Abraham Lincoln filed a patent for a publication which documents the lives of each of a town's citizens. Nate St. Pierre is saying that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook.
Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where “every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors.”
Look at the layout. Look at the placement of the photo. Guys/gals, it's Facebook. Abe Lincoln's Facebook patent was denied. Generations later, with the advent of the telephone, internet, the Web, and then online exhibitionism, Mark Zuckerberg would be much more successful with the idea of an all-about-me social newspaper.
This is, as you may have already suspected, a hoax. A funny one, but still.
Actually, "Springfield Gazette" isn't a bad name for a social network, if a bit American-centric; Springfields occur all over the country, and is sort of a generic place-name (i.e. The Simpsons).
Our follow-up question: is there a photo out there somewhere of Abraham Lincoln doing duckface?