Computer Virus Most Wanted (Not) – WIF Spotlight

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Infamous

Computer Viruses

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Much like humans, computers can contract nasty viruses that completely wreak havoc on their systems. It’s believed that there are over 100,000 computer viruses, though some experts contend that there are over a million. The good news is that many of the viruses are not in circulation and are merely a part of collections. However, there are some that have been released, and in some cases, they caused massive devastation. These are 10 of the most notorious.

 10. The Morris Worm

Robert Morris, Jr. is the son of a famous American cryptographer and pioneering computer scientist, Robert Morris, Sr. In 1988, he was a graduate student in Computer Science at Cornell, when he wrote an experimental program called a worm. The worm was 99 lines of code and it had the ability to self-replicate and self-propagate.

On November 2, 1988, Morris loaded his program onto the internet using a computer at MIT. However, Morris made a mistake in his coding and the worm spread quickly. Since the internet wasn’t as widespread then as it is now, the Morris Worm managed to infect 10 percent of all computers on the internet (which was about 6,000).

The program ran a bunch of invisible tasks and this caused computers around the United States to crash or become catatonic. When Morris realized what was happening, he contacted a friend at Harvard and they came up with a solution. They tried to send out an anonymous message on how to fix it, but it was too late and the message got lost in the traffic caused by the worm.

Computer programmers around the country worked for days to figure out how to debug the computers. In total, it cost anywhere from $200 to more than $53,000 to fix an infected computer. After investigating, all evidence in the coding of the worm pointed to Morris. He was convicted of violating the Fraud and Abuse Act and handed a sentence of three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and fined $10,050.

9. The Omega Time Bomb

Omega Engineering is a Stamford, Connecticut based company that designs and manufactures high tech instrumentation. On the morning of July 31, 1996, an employee in the Computer Numeric Control department started up the file server that controlled all the manufacturing machines. However, the server didn’t boot up and instead a message popped up that said that the file server was being fixed.

However, quite the opposite happened. Instead of fixing the files, it deleted them. Even worse, the virus destroyed any way of finding the programs again. Computer Security Journal said that the lines of code were scattered like a handful of sand thrown onto a beach. Omega was sure they had backups on tape and on local computers, but when they went to retrieve them, they could not be found.

When the employees realized what had happened, the first person they called was Tim Lloyd, a former employee who oversaw the computer network. He had been with the company for 10 years, but lost his job three weeks before the server crash because of problems with his attitude. Over the course of a year, Lloyd’s personality had changed and he became an angry man who lashed out at co-workers. His attitude also led to him purposely bottlenecking projects, which slowed production. He was given several warnings before he was fired on June 10, 1996.

When Omega realized how much information they had lost, they called the police who, in turn, called in the Secret Service. When they investigated, they found that the virus was just six lines of code that worked like a time bomb. When someone logged on July 31, 1996, it would delete all of Omega’s computer files. The most obvious suspect was Lloyd and the Secret Service looked at his home computer and found the same six lines of code. They determined that Lloyd was planning on quitting and he made the time bomb virus at home. He then installed it at work after everyone had left for the night. However, before he got a chance to quit, he was fired.

Lloyd was arrested and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution. At the time, it was the worst act of work-related computer sabotage. It cost Omega over $10 million in lost business and $2 million in reprogramming cost. They also had to lay off 80 people. It took years for Omega to overcome the virus attack, but they are still in business today.

8. Melissa

The Melissa virus started to spread on March 26, 1999, via email. The subject line of the email was “Important message from [Sender’s Name]” and the body of the email was, “Here is that document you asked for…don’t show anyone else ;-).” Finally, there was a Microsoft Word document labeled “list.doc.” When people would open the document, it would send out the same “Important Message” email to the first 50 addresses in the person’s Outlook address book.

The virus spread to hundreds of thousands of computers in the first several days. In some cases, it caused servers to shut down. Even Microsoft and Intel were infected. Microsoft chose to shut down their outgoing internet email service to stop the spread. In total, it’s estimated that the Melissa virus caused around $400 million in damage.

The virus was traced back to David L. Smith, a network programmer who lived in Trenton, New Jersey. Smith had hacked an America Online account and launched the virus from his apartment. He was arrested less than a week after the virus was released. He said that he named the virus Melissa after a topless dancer in Florida. He was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison.

When he was asked why he did it, Smith basically said that he did it to see if he could do it. Fair enough, we guess.

7. LoveBug aka ILOVEYOU

On May 4, 2000, people in the Philippines started getting emails with the subject line “ILOVEYOU.” The body of the email read, “Kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me.” Finally, there was an attachment with a file name like “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.” Many people who got the email couldn’t resist the thought of someone sending them a love letter out of the blue, so millions tried to open what they thought was a text file. And as you probably have guessed, it was, of course,a virus.

By today’s standards, the virus was pretty tame. It would make duplicate copies of media files and documents. It would also email the virus’ creator the user names and passwords of infected computers, which would allow him to log onto the internet for free. However, the real problem was that it could email a copy of itself to every email address in the infected computers’ Microsoft Outlook address book. At the time, not many people saw the importance of having things like an up-to-date antivirus program. As a result, according to the BBC, the LoveBug (as it was sometimes called) spread to 45 million computers in the first couple of days.

When programmers looked at the code, they found an email address embedded in it and the worm was traced back to 24-year-old Onel de Guzman, who was a student at the AMA Computer College in the Philippines. De Guzman had recently dropped out because his undergraduate thesis, which was to commercialize a Trojan horse that stole passwords, was rejected.

After the virus was released, De Guzman went into hiding. When he reemerged several days later, he was arrested along with one of his friends, Reomel Ramones. However, there were no laws regarding malware in the Philippines so neither man was ever charged or prosecuted. De Guzman says that the virus was “probably” his creation and admitted that he may have “accidentally” let it out of captivity.

The LoveBug became the first virus to successfully spread using social engineering, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

6. Agent.btz

In the fall of 2008, the U.S. Military’s computer network was hit by a variation of a SillyFDC worm. At the time, the SillyFDC worm was a fairly benign worm; before the attack, a SillyFDC worm was listed as “Risk Level 1: Very Low.” One reason the worm wasn’t super effective is that it wasn’t transferred through something like email. Instead, it was transferred via storage devices, like thumb drives.

However, a new variation of the worm, called Agent.btz, infected a military laptop at a base in the Middle East when someone inserted an infected flash drive. The laptop was connected to the U.S. Central Command and the virus was uploaded to the network. From there, the virus spread undetected through both classified and unclassified systems. Once the virus was in place, data could be secretly transferred to different foreign servers.

In a process called “Operation Buckshot Yankee,” it took the military 14 months to finally clear out the virus and it led to the formation of a new unit called the United States Cyber Command.

The leading theory is that the virus was an espionage attack by a foreign country, most likely Russia.

5. Flashback

Apple has long promoted that Macs are much safer than PCs because, Apple says, they are less likely to get viruses or malware. There are two big reasons for this. The first is that Microsoft Windows is used by a vast majority of computers. Even in 2016, Macs only account for 7.4 percent of home computer sales. This makes Windows a much bigger target. Secondly, it is much harder to make changes to Mac’s operating system, macOS (formerly OS X). There are areas of macOS that are walled off and you need administrative privilege to change it, meaning its operating system has a limited amount of points of intrusion.

However, that doesn’t mean Macs are invincible from viruses. The most notorious of them was discovered in September 2011. How it worked was that it was disguised as an Adobe Flash installerand it got around Mac’s security because there was an unpatched vulnerability in Java. The result was that 650,000 Macs, which was about 1.5 percent of all Macs at the time, were infected.

The Trojan horse virus did two things. The first is that it created a backdoor in the system so data, like passwords, could be stolen. It also took control of the computers, making them a botnet, which is when one central computer controls a collection of zombie computers.

By February 2012, Mac released a security tool to remove the virus and Oracle, who makes Java, fixed the vulnerability.

4. Sasser and Netsky-AC

The Sasser virus was first detected on April 30, 2004. It was different from other viruses at the time because with other viruses, users needed to do a task to infect their computer, like open a file. Instead, the Sasser virus passed through the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS). It would scan random computers until it found a vulnerable system and then it would copy itself as an executable file to the computer. When the computer was booted, the virus would install itself.

Microsoft knew about the vulnerability and issued a patch for it on April 13, 17 days before the virus was first detected. However, not every computer had updated the patch and this left them exposed. In the two days after the virus was detected, a cleanup tool was downloaded 1.5 million times.

One thing that really set Sasser apart from other viruses is that in the days after the virus was released, an email started circulating with a file that was supposed to fix it. Instead, it was another virus called Netsky-AC.

The viruses didn’t cause any permanent damage. However, it did cause computers to crash and reboot more often. In total, hundreds of thousands of computers were infected.

After the viruses were released, Microsoft offered a $250,000 reward for information on the author or authors. Two people turned in 18-year-old computer student Sven Jaschan, who was responsible for writing both Sasser and Netsky-AC. He was arrested and faced up to five years in jail; instead, he got a 21-month suspended sentence.

3. SQL Slammer

The fastest spreading computer worm in history, the SQL Slammer virus is also known as w2.SQLSlammer.worm, Sapphire, w32.SQLexp.worm, and Helkern. The worm started to spread at 12:30 EST on January 25, 2003. The virus would scan the entire internet for random IP addresses looking for vulnerable Microsoft SQL 2000 servers. The number of computers infected doubled every 8.5 seconds and within 10 minutes, 75,000 hosts, which was about 90 percent of vulnerable hosts, were infected.

The virus didn’t really effect home computers. Instead, it caused network outages, slowed down internet service, and denied some hosts access to the internet. This effected airline flights, interfered with electronics, and caused ATM failures. It is estimated that the virus cost $1 billion in lost revenue.

A major investigation was launched, but the author has never been identified.

2. Storm Worm

On January 19, 2007, computers in the United States and Europe started getting emails with the subject line “230 dead as storm batters Europe,” and then there was an attachment called video.exe. Of course, the attachment wasn’t a video; it was a Trojan horse virus. After infecting the computer, it created a backdoor which the author could use later to get data, and it added the computer to the botnet. The botnet was then used to post spam.

One of the reasons that the virus was initially successful was because, at the time when it was sent,bad storms were raging in Europe. Later, the subject was changed to over two dozen different headlines including “A killer at 11, he’s free at 21 and…”, “Chinese missile shot down USA aircraft”, and “President of Russia Putin dead”, just to name a few.

According to IBM, by February 2008 the worm had taken control of enough computers to perform spam attacks that were making the creators $2 million per day. As for who the creators were, it’s believed that the virus originated in Russia, but beyond that not much is known.

1. Code Red

The first version of the Code Red worm was discovered on July 12, 2001, by several employees at eEye Digital Security. They spent all night analyzing the worm and while working on it, they drank Mountain Dew Code Red. So, they called the virus Code Red, and the name stuck.

The first variation of Code Red didn’t spread fast and didn’t do much damage. Some websites were defaced and they said “Welcome to China http://www.worm.com ! Hacked by Chinese!” However, on the 20th of July, the virus stopped trying to infect other servers and a launched denial-of-service attack on the White House’s web page. Fortunately, the White House was able to stop the attack by changing IP addresses.

Code Red version 2, on the other hand, was much more problematic. At the time, it was the fastest moving computer virus. It was discovered at 5:00 p.m. EST on July 19, 2001, and within 14 hours, over 359,000 computers were infected. In total, it’s believed that the worm infected 1 million of 5.9 million web servers. This caused internet traffic to slow but didn’t do any damage to the servers themselves.

Code Red version 2 was also one of the most costly viruses. In July and August, the virus led to $2.6 billion in damages. The virus is believed to have originated at a university in China. However, it has never been confirmed.


Computer Virus Most Wanted (Not)

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– WIF Spotlight

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 63

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 63

“Today’s episode of THE RETURN TRIP is brought to you by 5-hour ENERGY

WINK

…The outside hatch slides open, allowing Martian air in for a mission first, the clarity of which comes as a surprise to two earthlings…

Just Another Martian Sunrise

The EVA suits are not as bulky as they were on the International Space Station. New technologies have been integrated for the thin atmosphere hereabout, yet the task of protecting the frail human body is never taken lightly. Extra Vehicular Activities can be rough and tumble, so if one of the McKinneys should trip over a sharp rock, there will not be a deadly CO2 breach.

Like closeted doppelgängers, two Portable Life Systems appear from out their covey, ready to be stepped into. But before the helmets go on, Sampson hands a 5-hour ENERGY  to Celeste, “I snuck my personal stash of this stuff aboard {he bought out all remaining stock from 15 years ago}, we’re going to need it out there.”

Beside the caffeinated liquid boosters, they barely have enough max-nutrition bars to last them until the New Mayflower shows up. Then there are the vegetable seeds, to be used for greenhouse experiments. exploring-marsThey leafy greens and tubers are for the last supper. The word “ration” will be the most unspoken and unnecessary word here on Mars.

weather-on-mars“Just as they advertised in the travel brochures, it is 30 degrees Fahrenheit with a bullet. I’ll be down to my shorts before you know it,” Sampson quips.

“Don’t forget your SPF 300, you’ll need it.” She knows he would go from Caucasian to Aborigine in ten seconds.

Elbow room in the Tycho air-lock is nonexistent, so Celeste comes out on the losing end of an unintended elbow from her fellow EVA partner, ah he turned to seal the inside of the two-hatch system.

“Sorry Cel, I need to allow for a larger turning radius.”

Apology accepted, but the pain she is experiencing is not commensurate with the force of the blow. She soldiers on, “I’ll be fine Sam, let’s have a look at our neighbor’s digs.”

“I want to try my jetpack, how about you?”

“I think I will pass, still a wee bit queasy,” the thought of flying like a rocket making her nauseous at the moment.

The outside hatch slides open, allowing Martian air in for a mission first, the clarity of which comes as a surprise to two earthlings who are accustomed to a smoggy haze. And no birds, no madding crowds, no annoying personal transports or aircraft either.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 63


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Contents TRT

Here Today Gone Tomorrow – WIF Into the Future

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Things You’ve Used Today

That Won’t Be Around

in 20 Years

In the new millennium, progress and change is happening more rapidly than ever before. For example, look at how different life in 1996 was compared to 2016. Cell phones weren’t yet commonplace, the internet was still making headway in becoming more mainstream, and so on. So it makes you stop and wonder: just how different will things be in another 20 years?

10. Plug-in Phone Chargers

A problem with all of the new tech that will replace everything is that it will require energy. As of right now, if you go out without charging your phone, it’s a pretty big annoyance. However, if you need your phone because it has all of your information (credit cards, car insurance, and so forth) stored, it’s important that it is charged all the time. Of course, that means taking time out to plug your phone, and other devices, into an outlet so it can charge for a few hours.

However, looking to solve that problem, a few companies are developing technology that will allow people to charge their devices without even taking them out of their pockets. Specifically, using radio waves. How they all essentially work is using special antennas that focus cellular and Wi-Fi signals into a pocket of low-powered energy that is on the back of the phone. Then, a receiver converts the radio power into DC energy, which charges the battery.

This technology isn’t far off, either. By late 2016, a company called Energous is planning to release a wireless charger that, from a distance of up to five feet, would charge a phone similar to a wall charger. At 10 feet, it would be similar to charging using a USB, and at 15 feet, it would be like a trickle of a charge.

By 2036, this technology will be stronger and charging units could be dispersed publicly, meaning your phone and other devices could always be charging.

9. Physical Wallets

wallet

Wallets may become obsolete simply because, sooner or later, there will be nothing to put into them. Essentially, everything in the wallet is going to get outsourced. Physical currency may still be used, but things like credit cards and debit cards will be changed to apps. This transition is already happening with apps like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Forms of identification will also become digital, but one of the main pieces of ID may be on its way out in about 20 years as well. It is predicted that by 2025, self-driving autonomous cars will be introduced (Google, you’re probably aware, is already hard at work on this project), and that by 2040, they will be commonplace. This could eliminate the need for a driver’s license altogether.

Finally, in your wallet there are a lot of things that you keep safe, like your money and your pieces of identification. If you lose your wallet, it could lead to a lot of problems, like identity theft. However, phones are encrypted and even the makers of the phone and the FBI have problems hacking them. Plus, unlike your wallet, they can be traced with GPS if lost or stolen.

So without a need for debit and credit cards or a physical driver’s license, wallets may just be relegated to objects that 2036’s form of hipsters use to be ironic.

8. Pennies

Due to inflation, the humble penny has really lost its relevancy over the past few decades. Many people wouldn’t stop to pick one up, and if they do it may just be for good luck because it certainly won’t improve your own personal wealth. Most of the time pennies are used solely to get rid of them, or to keep yourself from getting any more by having exact change. Finally, in countries like the United States, not only has the value of the penny gone down, but copper prices have also gone up. In 2014, it cost 1.7 cents to make one penny.

The solution, which countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have already done, is simply to eliminate the penny in cash transactions. Instead, it is just rounded to the nearest five cent increment. Electronic transactions, like paying with debit and credit cards, will still count cents.

With inflation and copper prices expected to go up, by 2036, the use of the copper pennies will be eliminated in many countries.

7. Passwords

In theory, specialized passwords are a good idea for security. However, on average, most people have between five and 10 passwords, all of which should be complex for greater security and half of which they forget and constantly have to reset anyway. Not that we speak from experience, or anything. Ahem. Moving on, the problem is that our brains have a hard time remembering complex sequences, like those ideally used for passwords (which IT specialists tell you should include combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers in random order).

In 20 years, passwords and pin codes for internet and banking accounts will be old news. Technology is currently being developed that would use different biometrics that would be hard to copy. This includes iris scans, voice recognition, fingerprint scans (which Apple, for example, already lets you use to access iPhones, and which can be used in place of passwords for several apps), facial recognition, and even a scanner that recognizes veins in people’s hands.

Besides the elimination of passwords, there will be other, very futuristic, Big Brother-ish sci-fi security on devices, like phones, that measure behavior. A company called BioCatch has a technology that creates behavioral profiles that analyze over 500 parameters, such as how someone holds their device, how they scan a website, and what sites they visit. If someone who is not you is using the device, the device can be shut down, or have the usage limited.

6. Physical Media

broken cds

For physical media, we thought we would break it down into four subcategories: music, movies, books, and video games.

For years, music and movies have moved away from physical media and have become digital downloads or are available through streaming services. We’ve seen this through the fall of places like Tower Records and Blockbuster Video, while iTunes and Netflix have skyrocketed in popularity. So it should not be a surprise that in 20 years, things like physical CDs and even DVDs and Blu-Rays will mostly be relegated to things people buy simply because they want a physical copy. The reason this is happening just comes down to cost and convenience. For example, music is recorded and mixed on a computer, then burned onto a CD, then shipped out to the store or Amazon warehouse, and so on. With digital, there are no materials or shipping costs – not to mention the immediacy of it, or the fact that a downloaded file can’t be damaged or scratched, unlike a disc.

Where this gets a bit more complicated is video games. Obviously with games, downloading and streaming with companies like Steam are becoming more and more common. However, where the industry is heading is still highly debated with two schools of thought. Will people still buy individual, physical games, or is Steam (or potentially a Netflix-style game site) the wave of the future? Well, the problem is games are way more complex than movies and television shows. This has led to speculation that game technology will always be too complex and too big to be entirely streamed, though digital downloads remain an increasingly popular option.

The final physical media is also the oldest – printed books. Of course, if you talk to a book lover, they will think it is crazy to even suggest that print books would be obsolete in 20 years. After all, other forms of physical media don’t necessarily affect the experience. Yes, the quality changes if you are listening to vinyl as opposed to a CD. However, it is impossible to tell the difference between CD and high quality digital downloads. However, there is a noticeable difference between reading a printed book and an e-reader. This may be why books are more resistant to death over the next 20 years. In fact, in 2015, digital book sales started to drop and the sale of printed books increased. So the future of books, both electronic and printed, is uncertain.

5. Needle Injections

Getting a needle injection is a bit of a paradox, because you stick a piece of metal into your body (which seems scary, and always feels like a bad idea), yet the injection may be lifesaving. Well, good news for people who don’t like getting pricked by needles: in 20 years, we’ll all probably be prickless. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Well, you know what we mean.

Two projects at MIT are looking at two very different ways to give people injections without puncturing the skin. The first uses jet injection technology, meaning it can shoot a substance at ultra-high speeds. The device is able to inject medicine by traveling almost as fast as the speed of sound, which allows the drug to flow through an opening in the skin that is about the size of a mosquito proboscis.

A second technology may sound rather horrible, but it actually could be a much safer way to administer drugs: capsule-coated needles that would deliver drugs directly to the stomach lining. The reason that some drugs have to be given to patients intravenously is because if a drug is made from large protein molecules, the digestive system breaks them down as if they are food. This new method of swallowing the injection would allow doctors to dose patients with large antibodies much more efficiently. This would include drugs used in cancer treatment and vaccines.

4. Washers and Dryers

Doing the laundry really isn’t that difficult of a chore, especially when you compare it to how things would have been before electric washer and dryers. Yet, we know that deep down, no one really likes to do the laundry. It’s time consuming, and we’re lazy.

The good news is that 20 years from now, we may not need to. Two separate groups of researchers, one in China in 2012, and another group in Australia in 2016, developed a coating from nanoparticles that reacts similar to bleach when it is exposed to the sun. For the Chinese group, it took 18 hours to coat the clothing, and it couldn’t be traditionally washed afterwards. However, the Australian group was able to coat the clothing in 40 minutes and the nanoparticles stayed on the clothes even when they were traditionally washed 15 times.

Once clothes can be cleaned by just putting it out in the sun, well, then it’s just a matter of doing exactly that and ditching your washer and dryer or trips to the laundromat. After all, being able to use the sun to wash your clothes should be easy for everyone who doesn’t live in England or Seattle.

3. Car Mirrors

car mirror

More and more cars are taking advantage of cameras. In fact, starting in May 2018, all new cars that are manufactured are required to have a rearview camera. Besides just replacing the rearview mirror, cameras are also expected to replace side view mirrors as well. Cameras are simply becoming cheaper, and there is more of an advantage because cameras have a better range of view, such as seeing into blind spots. Finally, as cars move toward being self-driving, the amount of cameras will increase, and since a computer wouldn’t use mirrors to look around the car, they simply won’t be practical.

Beyond cars, there are even some who believe that mirrors will start to disappear from everyday life (which is really going to cause people to get more creative with how they take selfies). Instead, they will be replaced with high resolution monitors that will allow you to do close ups, get biometric readings, and see yourself dressed in different outfits. This would also have decorative features because that big area in rooms that are taken up by mirrors could be anything on the screen.

2. Metal Keys

People have been locking up their possessions since the days of Ancient Egypt, but over the next 20 years or so, keys are going to be given a radical update. Mainly, they will be electronic and on your phone or other portable, electronic device. Volvo, as shown in the video above, is at the forefront of trying to get this movement away from physical keys started. There’s a good chance you’ve also been in a car that’s got a push button starter, which only requires what is basically a keyless fob to be in the car for it to start.

New digital keys will do more than just lock and unlock the door for users. Doors could also be opened with blue tooth. Virtual keys could also be sent to guests with timers, and you can control who has access to open the locks, and at what times.

Using your phone as a key is already being used in Starwood Hotels and Range Rover is using the technology in their cars. Currently, the problem is that digital copies of locks may be easier to pick, and with so many important, personal items on your phone (credit cards, ID, the key to your car…you know, basically half of your life), losing or damaging your phone could be devastating.

1. Checkout Lines

check out

Online shopping certainly has its advantages compared to retail shopping. However, sometimes you just want to look at, touch, and try out a product before buying it. Also, sometimes there are benefits of browsing the store, whereas visiting a website you may only visit certain sections. But, in order to compete, stores will have to look to be innovative, and one of the best ways to do that would be to eliminate lines. After all, who likes to line up to hand over their money?

Well, frictionless commerce is already starting to emerge. The most notable company that takes advantage of this is Uber. There is no money exchanged, it’s all just on the app. Well, this will happen when you do things like grocery shop. Any time you put something in your bag, it automatically tallies up and charges you as you walk out of the store.


Here Today Gone Tomorrow

WIF Future-001

– WIF Into the Future

Benchmark Companies – WIF Business

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WIF History-001

10 Oldest Businesses

Still in Operation Today

Starting a business is hard enough, but making one thrive and survive, even for a short time, is sometimes nothing less than a miracle. Amazingly, the businesses on this list managed to overcome the odds; many of them have survived for centuries, and all of them are, quite astonishingly, still operating.

Note: These are not the 10 oldest businesses overall, but the oldest companies still in operation in 10 different types of businesses.

10. Video Game Company

nintendo cards

Nintendo – Japan
Est: 1889

You’re probably thinking that this entry is a mistake, because there is no waythat Nintendo was making video games over 125 years ago…which is completely true. The roots of video games started to form in the 1950s. But what’s interesting about the Nintendo Company is that it was founded on September 23, 1889, by Japanese entrepreneur Fusajiro Yamauchi. The first products that the “Nintendo Koppai” made were hand drawn playing cards, called Hanafuda Cards, which were similar to the common 52-card decks, and could be used to play different games. In 1959, Fusajiro Yamauchi’s grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, was running the company and made a deal with Disney to print their characters on Nintendo cards. This increased business, and Nintendo went public in 1962.

With investor money, Nintendo took on a bunch of different projects, such as a taxi company, an instant rice company, remote controlled vacuum cleaners, toy making, and “a short stay” hotel chain, which is essentially exactly what it sounds like. Most of the ventures were failures, and Nintendo was facing other problems; the playing card business had been saturated, and they drowning in debt. Luckily for Nintendo, and millions of gamers, one of their ventures helped turned the company around: toy-making.

In 1970, Hiroshi was touring one of Nintendo’s factories and saw an engineer, Gunpei Yokoi, playing with an extending arm that he created. Hiroshi decided to launch the extending arm as an official product called the “Ultra Hand,” and it became a best seller. This changed Nintendo’s direction again, and they began making electronic toys, including a Love Tester.

It was during this time that video games and arcades were gaining some traction, and in 1975 Nintendo released its first video arcade game, EVR Race,which was followed by one of the biggest video games of all time, Donkey Kong. In 1983, they released their own platform, called the Famicom (short for Family Computer) in Japan. Shortly after they released Famicon, the video game market crashed. Nintendo managed to survive the crash, and in 1985 the company released the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America. The rest, as they say, is history.

9. Musical Instrument Manufacturer

zildjian

Avedis Zildjian Company – Turkey
Est. 1623

The most famous cymbal company in the world got its start in 1618 in Constantinople, which is modern day Istanbul, Turkey, when an Armenian alchemist named Avedis tried to make gold using tin, copper, and silver. What he ended up with was an alloy that didn’t break when it was struck; instead, it made a loud crashing noise. The alloy quickly became popular and was used by the Ottoman military band as a tactic to frighten the enemy.

In 1623, Sultan Osman II gave Avedis the family name “Zildjian,” which means “son of cymbal maker.” The family continued to make cymbals in Constantinople until 1929, when Avedis III moved the company to Massachusetts, where it is still in operation today. Currently, the company is run by the 14th generation of the family and they remain the dominant cymbal maker in the world, having 65 percent of the market.

One of the big reasons for Zildjian’s success is the secret alloy formula that was developed by Avedis. Only a handful of people throughout its 400 year history have known what mixture of elements makes Zildjian’s unique sound.

8. Pharmacy

pharmacy

Santa Maria Novella – Italy
Est. 1612

The Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy, is the oldest known pharmacy in the world. It started off life as a Dominican monastery in 1221. The friars grew medicinal herbs (quit snickering, you bunch of stoners) in their gardens, and it was used to treat patients in their infirmary. The friars, who had taken a vow of poverty, didn’t open it up to the public until 400 years later in 1612, after word had spread about their balms, ointments, and washes.

Today, the pharmacy still sells many of the concoctions and remedies that it has brewed and sold throughout its 400 year (plus) history, along with modern skin care products and ointments.

7. Amusement Park

Bakken – Denmark
Est. 1583

Bakken, the oldest amusement park that is still in operation, first opened to the public in 1583 in Klampenborg, which is just north of Copenhagen, Denmark. Of course, what people find amusing has changed over the years, and 430 years ago they didn’t exactly have the rides that we are familiar with today. Instead, the park consisted of pleasure gardens. In the gardens, there would be dancing, fireworks, and even some primitive rides.

At the time, plenty of cities throughout Europe had similar amusement parks, but many closed in the 1700s. Bakken carried on and evolved throughout the centuries. In 1923, they constructed a wooden roller coaster, and they continued to add modern rides in the following years. The park is still in operation today and admission is free.

6. Printing and Publishing House

Cambridge University Press – England
Est. 1584

London’s Cambridge University was first granted a Letters Patent, which is similar to a royal charter, by King Henry the VIII in 1534. This allowed the university to print “all manner of books.” However, due to politics and censors, the university wouldn’t publish its first book until fifty years later. Their first book was Two Treatises of the Lord His Holie Supper, and it was printed by Cambridge’s first printer, Thomas Thomas. Yes, that was his actual name. No, we can’t confirm whether or not his parents did, in fact, hate him.

Since that first book was printed just over 480 years ago, the Cambridge University Press has published a book every single year. This includes works by some of the greatest minds in human history, like John Milton, Isaac Newton, D.H. Lawrence, Noam Chomsky, and Stephen Hawking.

5. Bank

bank

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena – Italy
Est. 1472

The basics of banking, such as lending money, started around 2000 B.C. and it was advanced in Ancient Greece and during the time of the Roman Empire, when bankers would take deposits and exchanged money. In the Middle Ages, in what is modern day Italy, banking evolved even more. One of the banks that helped with that evolution was Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which is located in Siena. Obviously. The bank was founded in 1472, when Siena was still an independent state.

After the Kingdom of Italy was established in 1861, the bank spread to become the third largest bank in Italy. They managed to survive wars between city states, two World Wars, fascism, and they even made it through the 2012 European financial crisis due to a bailout, but in early 2016 they were again inserious financial trouble.

4. Brewery

brewery

Weihenstephan – Germany
Est. 1040

A lot of beer companies brag about their long brewing traditions, but not many breweries are anywhere close to being as old as the Weihenstephanbrewery, which is just north of Munich, Germany. The brewery is located in the Weihenstephan Abbey, which was a Benedictine monastery that was established in 725 by Saint Corbinian. In 1040, Abbot Arnold got a license to brew beer and Weihenstephan officially became a brewery.

It wasn’t an easy near-millennium for the brewery. Between 1085 and 1463, the monastery faced a number of tragedies. It burned down four times, endured three plagues, multiple famines, and a massive earthquake. Yet, it survived under the friar’s control until 1803, when the monastery was dissolved because Germany secularized. However, the state kept the brewery going and the beer is still sold to this day in dozens of countries around the world.

3. Bar

bar

Sean’s Bar – Ireland
Est. 900

Before we get into this entry, we feel we should clear the air a bit. We really don’t want to stereotype here, but is anyone truly surprised that the oldest bar in the world is located in Ireland? Well, it’s true. Sean’s Bar, which is located on the west bank of the River Shannon in Athlone, is believed to have been continuously in operation since 900 , and supposedly, there is a record of every owner since it opened. Amazingly, this includes singer Boy George, who briefly owned the bar in 1987. Further proof of the bar’s age was found during a renovation in the 1970s, when workers found a piece of original wall that is made of wattle and wicker. The wall was excavated, and it’s on display in a glass case at the bar.

Sean’s Bar was originally opened as an inn by Luain over 1,110 years ago, and that is where Athlone gets its name from. In Irish, Athlone means Atha Luain, which translates to the “Ford of Luain.” Luain designed the inn with tilted floors so that when it rains, the water runs through the bar and out to the river. This tilted floor is also great for messing with visitors to the bar who have had one or three or six too many. And those visitors have included U2, star athletes, and plenty of American tourists. The boom in American tourism started in the 1980s, after Dallas stars Larry Hagman and Linda Gray became frequent visitors to the bar and expressed their love for it.

2. Restaurant

restaurant

Stiftskeller St. Peter – Austria
Est. ~806

The restaurant business is notoriously hard. On average, almost 60 percent fail within the first year. It is even more difficult to get to the five year mark. That means having one run continuously for decades is impressive, let alone centuries, but Stiftskeller St. Peter in Salzburg, Austria has been open for a mind-boggling 1,210 years.

The restaurant is part of the original building of St Peter’s Abbey, which is a Benedictine monastery. The earliest reference to the restaurant is found in the 806 writings of Alcuin, who was a follower of Charlemagne. Since then, Stiftskeller has supposedly been continuously open and many dignitaries and celebrities have visited, including Bill Clinton, Clint Eastwood, and Karl Lagerfeld.

Stiftskeller serves traditional Austrian food and once a week, they host a dinner where musicians perform Mozart in traditional period costumes.

1. Hotel

hotel

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan – Japan
Est. 705

In the South Japanese Alps (yes, Japan has its own Alps, in case you didn’t know that and were confused) in the Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, you’ll find the oldest hotel in the world, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan. The hotel was founded by Fujiwara Mahito in the second year of the Keiun era (which is where the hotel gets its name), which is 705 in the Roman calendar.

Since its opening, the hotel (which is known for its hot springs) has been owned and operated by 52 generations of descendants from the original owner, although a few were adopted in. The hotel, which is close to Mount Fiji, will run you at least $475 to $570 USD per night.

If you’re wondering what the key to their 1,300 years of success is, Fortunespeculates that, based on the hotel’s strong reviews, it is their impeccable service.

Also, at 1,300 years old, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is not only the oldest hotel in the world, but it is also thought to be the oldest business in operationtoday. Just to give you some idea as to how old it is, it is 225 years older than the Kingdom of Britain.


Benchmark Companies

– WIF Business

Soda Pop Backstory – WIF Consumer Corner

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Origin Stories of

Famous Soft Drinks

 Whether you call it soda, pop, or soda pop, carbonated water with lots of sugar in it has been a staple of the beverage world since about 1867. That’s when it was first sold at druggists and pharmacists across America. At first, it was thought to have remedial effects. But of course, in the new millennium, they are actually having a really negative effect on the health of millions of people.

Nevertheless, soft drinks are still some of the most consumed liquids in the world. This is how 10 of the biggest soft drinks got their start.

10. Mountain Dew

mountaindew

We thought we’d start off this list with one of the most unhealthy soft drinks on the market, and that is the one and only Mountain Dew. Often associated with EXTREME sports like the X-Games, it’s the third most popular soft drink in the world. In 2014, the bright neon yellow drink that is chock full of sugar and caffeine was responsible for a hefty chunk of the $125 billion non-alcoholic beverage market. One interesting thing that we want to add is that you may not like Mountain Dew yourself, but you probably know someone who drinks gallons of it a week. Well, it turns out that about 20% of drinkers are responsible for 70% of their sales.

 Mountain Dew has rather humble beginnings. It was invented by some hillbillies living in the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee who were looking for something to chase down their homemade whiskey. In 1948, brothers Barney and Ally Hartman, who ran a bottling company in Knoxville, Tennessee, started bottling the recipe, calling it Mountain Dew. That was slang for moonshine, and they sold it in a green bottle. The drink didn’t sell well while the brothers were owners, so they sold it to another bottling company, who in turn were acquired by PepsiCo in 1964. Since then, it has grown to the international brand we know today and a favorite of teenage boys throughout the world.

9. Red Bull

red-bull

Many people will be quick to point out that Red Bull is an energy drink, which it is. But, it’s still carbonated sugar water, so that makes it a soft drink. So welcome to the list, Red Bull!

The company was co-founded by an Austrian man named Dietrich Mateschitz. Mateschitz, who earned a degree in marketing, worked for Unilever, Jacob’s Coffee, and Blendax as a marketer. Due to his work, he travelled around a lot and one of his trips led him to Thailand. While there, he drank what was being hailed as a cure for jetlag. And thanks to the amount of caffeine and taurine in it, the syrupy tonic drink did cure his jetlag.

The drink was already popular across Asia and Mateschitz saw the potential. He met with the brewer, Chaleo Yoovidhya, and they made a deal where they would each receive 48% of the company for $500,000 (Yoovidhya’s son owned the other 2%). Over the next severeal years, Mateschitz tinkered with the project. He changed the recipe to appeal more to people in the West, and he carbonated it. He also designed the now recognizable blue and silver can, and a friend gave him their famous slogan: “Red Bull gives you wings.”

 With the drink ready for production in 1987, Mateschitz used his years of marketing experience to push the energy drink, the first of its kind. Of course, Red Bull has grown since those early days and both owners became multi-billionaires. According to Forbes, Red Bull is worth $7.7 billion.

8. Hires Root Beer

hires

Drinks made from roots have been around for centuries, so it wasn’t a new invention when Charles Hires tried root tea while on his honeymoon in New Jersey in the second half of the 19th century. He loved the root tea and when he returned home, the young pharmacy owner set to work making his own. His first concoction was called Hires Root Tea. At first, he sold it as packets of dry extracts of Sarsaparilla, Ginger, Sassafras, and Hops, and it was blended with roots, barks, and berries. People would then take it home, add sugar and yeast and let it ferment, then they bottle it themselves.

At first, it didn’t sell well. To boost sales, Hires changed the name to Hires Root Beer for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. He thought the beer label would appeal to men. The name change worked and Hires Root Beer grew in popularity. It was during this time that Hires tried to trademark the name “root beer,” but was denied because it was too generic.

In 1880, Hires made the root beer into a liquid extract. By 1892, they were selling three million bottles of extract a year. The liquid extract was available all the way into the 1920s before it was discontinued. A bottle with a finished product was introduced in 1893 and it has been on sale ever since. However the recipe has changed. It is now carbonated, and has more sugar.

 At 140 years old, Hires is the oldest soft drink brand that is still sold today.

7. Barq’s Root Beer

barqs

The convoluted history of Barq’s Root Beer started in 1890, when chemist Edward Charles Edmond Barq Sr. opened Barq Brothers Bottling Co. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In 1897, he moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, and opened the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works in 1899. Two years later, he started selling a drink he called Barq’s, which was a sarsaparilla-based libation.

Where the story gets a little bit more complicated is that Barq had an affair, which resulted in a child named Jasper “Jesse” Louis Robinson. Robinson lived with the Barqs, which we’re sure wasn’t awkward at all, and as an adult, at his father’s urging, Robinson opened his own bottling plant in New Orleans where he sold Barq’s. The father and son had a deal where Robinson could sell anywhere in Louisiana, except Washington Parish, and Barq would have Mississippi.

Throughout the years, the two companies ran completely separate from each other and each used their own processes for making root beer. By 1937, Barq had passed away and there were 62 franchises bottling root beer from Robinson’s leg of the business. At the time of Robinson’s death in 1949, there were close to 200 bottling franchises spread throughout the country. Robinson left half the company to his wife, and then the other half was split between his three children. His wife then named their son Jesse Robinson Jr. as the president of the Company.

In 1971, Jesse was ousted as president, and upon leaving that position, he sold his inheritance he would get when his mother died to his two sisters. After Jesse left, the two Barq’s bottling companies merged and in 1991 they were purchased by the Coca-Cola company for $91 million.

However, that wasn’t the end of it for the second Jesse Robinson. In 2010, his childrensued Coca-Cola for one-third of Barq’s profits contending that, in Louisiana, you cannot sell your inheritance. Coca-Cola said the suit had no merit and the result of the suit could not be found.

6. Canada Dry

canadadry

The creator of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, John James McLaughlin, was born in Enniskillen, Ontario, on March 2, 1865. He studied pharmacy at school and in 1885, set up a small carbonating bottling plant in Toronto. There, he developed mixes and carbonated water. One mixture that he made, called McLaughlin’s Belfast Style Ginger Ale, found popularity in the United Kingdom. He decided to develop a similar drink that was dry and sparkling, like champagne. He spent 10 years working on it and in 1904, he had perfected the recipe. A patent was filed on it in 1905 and two years later, he trademarked the name Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale.

McLaughlin died in 1914, just as the company was starting to get off the ground, and his brother took over. Canada Dry was able to set themselves apart because they focused on selling it in ready to drink bottles, which was unusual for soft drinks at the time.

A few things helped make Canada Dry so popular. The first was that since it was ready to drink, it was sold at places like the beach and baseball games. The second was prohibition. When Canada Dry was introduced in the 1920s in the United States, the 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol was being enforced. Canada Dry became popular in speakeasies because it made illegal Canadian whiskey much smoother and easier to drink.

From there, the company grew and changed hands multiple times. In 1953, they were the first soft drink to come in a can. The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. owns the company today, and it’s the third most produced soft drink in the world.

5. 7-Up

7up

Originally called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime (we can’t fathom why they’d ever change that gem of a name), 7-Up was introduced just two weeks before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The owner of the drink, Charles L. Grigg, worked as a soft drinks advertiser and changed the name to 7-Up shortly after its release. As for why the name change, no one is really sure why Grigg chose the name or what it means. Grigg ultimately took the secret to his grave, so there is a good chance we will never know. But one belief, probably the most logical, is that 7-Up has seven ingredients. Another theory is related to the original 7-Up’s special ingredient, the mood altering drug lithium, which has an atomic mass close to seven. Lithium is a salt that is found in groundwater. It’s used to treat bipolar disorder and depression.

7-Up continued to use lithium in its recipe until 1948, when it was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration. In 1950, the new formula, without the special side effects, was released. The soda maintained its popularity. It was purchased in 1978 by cigarette giant Phillip Morris, and then the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group bought it in 1986 for $240 million.

4. Fanta

fanta

One story you made of heard about Fanta was that it was invented by the Nazis. The good news for those of you who love Fanta, but feel guilty about the Nazi connection, is that the myth isn’t true. That being said, Hitler and the Nazis did influence its creation.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Coca-Cola was having amazing success in Germany. They had record sales there, and by 1939, the country was home to 43 bottling plants and more than 600 distributors. The problem was that the atmosphere in Europe was changing. That meant that German Coca-Cola plants were having a hard time getting all the ingredients needed to produce Coca-Cola.

In 1938, Ray Powers, the American-born overseer of Coke’s operations in Germany, died in a car accident. The German government chose Max Keith, Powers’ German-born right hand man, to be his replacement. Keith, who was not associated with the Nazis, got a message to Coca-Cola distributors in Switzerland and told them he would try to keep operations going.

Since Keith couldn’t get all the ingredients, he had to stop selling Coca-Cola because he simply had no way to make it. Instead, he used the Coca-Cola plants to produce Fanta, which was a pale drink made from whatever was available at the time. This included whey, and apple fiber from cider presses. As for where the name came from, Keith told his salesman to use their “Fantasie” (imagination in German) to come up with a name and a veteran salesman blurted out “Fanta.” The drink sold well during the war. In 1943, three million cases were sold.

During the war, Coca-Cola’s head office in Atlanta had no idea if Keith was working for them or the Nazis. When the war came to an end, they found out Keith had kept operations going and protected Coca-Cola’s interests. As a result, Coca-Cola were one of the first companies to restart operations in post-war Germany. They also looked into Keith’s involvement with the Nazis and it turned out that although he was pressured to join, he never became a member of the Nazi party.

Coca-Cola discontinued Fanta after the war, but in the 1950s, Pepsi-Cola started to release more flavors. To compete, Fanta was reintroduced in 1955. The first flavor was orange, and now there are more than 100 flavors. Every day, 130 million people consume one of those flavors.

3. Dr. Pepper

dr-pepper

Dr. Pepper is famous for combining 23 different flavors. It even says it on the label. Perhaps that’s why it’s so surprising that it’s actually the oldest carbonated flavored drink that is still sold today. Of course, Hires was priorly created, but it was more of a tea drink that wasn’t carbonated.

In 1885, Waco, Texas was a frontier town that held the ominous nickname, “six-shooter junction.” In Waco, there was a pharmacy called The Old Corner Drug Store and it was owned by Wade Morrison. At the pharmacy, people would buy drinks from the soda fountain. That’s when pharmacy employee Charles Alderton noticed that people liked the smell of the mixed fruits from different flavored drinks. Customers were also getting bored with the usual flavors. So that is when Alderton started to mix the syrups until he came up with a recipe he liked.

After serving it to a few customers, he got feedback and perfected the famous soft drink. Soon Morrison started selling it, and it became popular enough that other stores purchased the syrup, which didn’t have a name. Instead, people just called it “a Waco.”

The name was chosen by the owner of the pharmacy. It’s not exactly clear why Morrison chose it, but it’s believed to be in honor of his friend Dr. Charles Pepper, whom Morrison knew when he lived in Virginia. Supposedly, Morrison was in love with Pepper’s daughter. However, when Morrison left Virginia to move to Waco, Pepper’s daughter would have been eight-years-old and he wouldn’t have seen her since his move. Yet, that is the official story from Dr. Pepper.

Soon the drink became so popular that they had problems making syrup. That’s when they met Sam Houston, a man who owned a bottling plant in Dublin, Texas. From there, the business grew to be one of the bestselling soft drinks in the world. And some of its bottling is still done in Dublin, Texas, where you can buy the original Dr. Pepper formula.

2. Pepsi

pepsi

 Much like Burger King to McDonald’s, Pepsi was developed as an imitator with the hopes of replicating the success of a company in the same space. It was first brewed in 1898 by pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham of New Bern, North Carolina. It was a sweet carbonated drink made with kola nut extract, and its name came from another of its main ingredients, pepsin. That’s an enzyme that helps with digestion. It was patented in 1903, and in 1905, they were selling franchises.

Pepsi-Cola sold well at first, but during the first World War, they ran into some financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy. In 1931, it was purchased by Charles G. Guth, who was the owner of Loft, a candy and fountain pop distributor. This started the modern era of the Pepsi-Cola Company. The first thing they did was get a chemist to develop a better drink. They set up bottling operations, and then began selling 12-ounce bottles for a nickel, which proved to be immensely popular.

Guth lost controlling interest in Pepsi in 1941. Nine years later, a former vice president of Coca-Cola company became CEO of Pepsi. He focused on massive advertising campaigns and sales promotions, which increased Pepsi’s earnings 11-fold during the 1950s. That’s when Pepsi officially became the rival to the biggest soft drink company of all-time.

In 1966, Pepsi-Cola, now called PepsiCo, merged with Frito Lay. Then in 1976, they purchased Pizza Hut. In 1978, they bought Taco Bell, and finally they acquired KFC and 7-Up in 1986. Pepsi also owns Tropicana, Dole, Quaker Oats, and Gatorade, making them the second largest producer of food and beverages, just behind…

1. Coca-Cola

coke

One thing most people have probably heard about the creation of Coca-Cola is that the original recipe had cocaine in it. Well, that is 100 percent accurate. In fact, it was cocaine and alcohol mixed together.

The story of Coca-Cola can be traced back to Parisian chemist Angelo Mariani. He made a drink called Vin Marine, that mixed wine and cocaine. It was incredibly popular, because mixing cocaine and alcohol actually creates a third drug called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene acts like cocaine, except that it is more euphoric.

Seeing the popularity of the drink and hoping to siphon off some for himself, Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a pharmacist living in Atlanta, worked on developing his own Cocoa French Wine. Pemberton, who had a morphine addiction stemming from an injury he received during the Civil War, made a concoction he called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, which was marketed as a cure all that would help “invigorate sexual organs.”

The drink sold well, as one would expect from a drink that mixed cocaine and alcohol. But then in 1886, Pemberton ran into a problem because one of his wine’s main components became illegal in Atlanta. And no, it wasn’t the cocaine. 34 years before the rest of the country, Atlanta enacted a prohibition law that meant alcoholic drinks could no longer be sold.

To get around the law, Pemberton replaced the alcohol with sugar syrup and called the drink “Coca-Cola: The temperance drink.” Without much else to drink, Coca-Cola became incredibly popular. However, Pemberton didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of his labor. In 1888, the maker of America’s bestselling cocaine-wine died of stomach cancer. We’re sure his product (or that pesky morphine addiction) had nothing to do with his illness.

 After Pemberton’s death, Coca-Cola continued to grow in popularity. In 1899, they introduced Coke in bottles, and it became very popular with African Americans, who didn’t have access to fountain pop because of segregation laws. This led to fear among middle class white people that cocaine drinking black people might start attacking white people, and the police would be powerless to stop them. So in 1903, cocaine was removed from the recipe and it was replaced with more sugar and caffeine.

Since then, Coca-Cola has had a long and storied history with many ups and downs. In May 2016, the company (built from an alcoholic drink made with cocaine that was developed by a morphine addicted Civil War vet who ripped off a French chemist) celebrated its 130th anniversary.

Currently, Coca-Cola is the third most valuable brand, just behind Apple and Microsoft. It’s the biggest food and beverage company in the history of civilization.


Soda Pop Backstory

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– WIF Consumer Corner

Internet Crazes – At Your Own Risk

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10 Terrible (and Dangerous)

Internet Crazes

The internet is a force for both good and evil. On the one hand, it’s given us moreawesome top ten sites and videos of cats falling over than you can shake a proverbial stick at. On the other, it’s sparked endless crazes that run the whole gamut of awful from “really stupid” to “probably deadly.” Here we round up the top 10 worst internet fads of all-time, from dumbass dances, to stupid poses, to shoving condoms up your noses (yeah, really)…

10. Pokémon Go

Landmines and Accidents

pokemongo

At time of writing, Pokémon Go is the biggest thing happening on the entire internet. It’s so big, in fact, that reptilian creatures living on Mars can see it with the naked eye. An‘augmented’ reality game that allows players to track Pokémon across locations in the real world, it has been responsible for players getting more exercise, for Americans learning the metric system…and for endless horrific accidents and acts of obnoxiousness.

First, the accidents. Because Pokémon Go requires players to stare at their phones as they walk around places they’ve never been to before, the game has led to many people wandering into situations they really shouldn’t be in. In America, for example, armed robbers have used the game’s Pokestop feature to lure people into darkened alleyways. If you’re talking about other places, it’s even worse. In Bosnia, players have been lured out into the middle of active minefields.

Then there’s the obnoxious side. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently had to beg people not to come onto their premises to catch Pokemon. That’s right: some players are so dead inside that they will actually go looking for Pikachu inside a memorial to the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide. If that doesn’t prove we’re living in an idiocracy, we don’t know what will.

9. #YOLO – Car Crashes and Spoiled Rich Kids

yolo

If a week is a long time in politics, in internet terms it’s probably closer to ice ages. The #YOLO craze only struck in 2012, but already it feels like it happened in another lifetime. An acronym for You Only Live Once, it was something people tweeted, usually with a selfie, just before doing something slightly odd or dangerous.

That’s not hyperbole. People really were doing some stupid stuff in the name of YOLO. A 21-year old wannabee rapper named Ervin McKinness tweeted a shot of himself drunk driving at 120 MPH with the caption #YOLO. In his case, he probably should’ve taken the acronym’s meaning to heart. His dumb stunt caused him to lose control of the car and die in a fiery crash that killed four other people. The moron.

Even when YOLO wasn’t dramatically shortening peoples’ only lifespans, it was still annoying. Nearly everyone who tweeted it was an annoying rich kid on the verge of doing some annoying rich kid thing, like bungee jumping, or sky diving, or (hopefully) sticking their stupid rich faces into a whirring fan.

8. Owling –

The Poor Man’s Planking

owling

Planking was a short-lived craze from the UK, which involved people taking pictures of themselves lying flat (like a plank of wood) in bizarre locations. Sure, it annoyed some people, but we didn’t really have a problem with it. It was what came next that made us slowly lose faith in the idea of a loving God. The creation of Owling.

Owling involved people squatting hunched-over on their feet, staring into the distance. Yes, like an owl. Gangs of smug twenty-somethings would get together and do it in groups, post the photos to the internet, and a new craze was born.

Or not, which is exactly why we hate it so much. Planking came out of people’s natural desire to do something silly and put it online. Owling came out of peoples’ natural desire to get mildly-famous for starting an internet trend. It was just a bunch of hipsters riding the coattails of a genuine, bottom-up craze. Pro tip: when you have to title your first video ‘the new planking!’ you don’t have the new planking. You have Owling. And nobody wants Owling.

7. The Duct Tape Challenge – Terrifying Head Injuries

duct tape

Man. In our day, tying someone up with duct tape and daring them to escape used to be called ‘kidnapping’. Now apparently it’s a ‘challenge’. Semantics aside, the duct tape challenge blew up in early 2016 on YouTube. To play, you just get your friends to wind as much duct tape around you as possible. Then you try to escape. Simple, right?

Sure. Unless things happen to go badly wrong, leaving you with horrific brain injuries.

14-year old Skylar Fish was the unlucky recipient of these injuries. Whilst doing the challenge, he slipped and fell. Since his arms were duct taped to his side, he couldn’t break his fall. The sharp corner of a window ledge did it for him.

Skylar’s eye socket was crushed, blinding him in one eye. The teenager also suffered a brain aneurysm and required over 40 metal staples to be shot into his skull to (essentially) keep his brain from falling out. We’d make a joke about how duct tape could hold head together as well, but that’d probably be crass.

6. Gallon Smashing – Industrial-grade Obnoxiousness and Arrests

Listen: we know that teenage boys are natural troublemakers. We didn’t spend our teenage years trying to build planet-destroying superweapons without picking stuff like that up. But Gallon Smashing took troublemaking to Everest-like heights of obnoxiousness. A short-lived fad in 2013, it basically involved going to your local store, grabbing a container of milk, and smashing it on the floor.

 That was it. Sometimes, you might throw it into other produce and try to smash that as well. Others, you might fall down into the smashed remnants of your dignity and beg passers-by to help you up (the ‘prank’ element). But, really, basically, you were just smashing stuff up and posting videos to the internet, like a drunken redneck at a NASCAR rally.

The craze quickly petered out when everyone realized The Man really isn’t cool with you smashing other peoples’ property up. A bunch of teenage boys got arrested and charged with misdemeanors, and the world gave a collective ‘meh.’

5. Cone-ing – The Prank that Isn’t a Prank

We’re going to have to go right back into the Dark Ages for this one. Cone-ing (or coning, whatevs) is an internet craze from the prehistoric era of 2011. We know, right? It’s also one of the dumbest ‘pranks’ in history. Not because its harmful. If anything, it’s pleasingly restrained. No, cone-ing was absurd because it was a prank that managed to not have any element of pranking to it whatsoever.

The idea was pretty simple. You’d order an ice cream from a drive-thru place. When you got to the window and the bored guy behind the counter handed it over, you’d grab the ice cream and not the cone. At which point… literally nothing would happen. Not one thing. You’d take the cone the incorrect way and drive off. The guy would shrug and go ‘huh, that was an odd way to hold an ice cream’ and go back to work. We can’t stress enough howliterally not a single other thing would happen.

That isn’t a prank. It isn’t even a joke. It isn’t even a vaguely-humorous thought. It’s holding an ice cream cone the incorrect way. And yet it got so popular that even Justin Bieber was doing it.

4. The Kylie Jenner Challenge – Unavoidable Grossness

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Imagine, for a second, that you are an imbecile. You see a picture of Kylie Jenner’s brand new, puffy lips (circa 2015) and decide it’d be fun to temporarily give yourself a look like that. So you get a glass, put it over your lips and create a vacuum by sucking all the air out. What do you think happens next?

If you answered ‘unbridled horror,’ congratulations, you’re cleverer than all the lunatics who climbed onboard this out-of-control bandwagon.

Artificially puffing up your lips using dubious methods turns out to be very bad for your lips and looks in general. The luckiest got away with having horrendous big, swollen, painful lips that made them look like monsters for a short period of time. The unluckiest had blood vessels explode, their lips tear open, blood spray out, and an avoidable trip to the plastic surgeon. Ironically, opting to go straight for surgery would’ve allowed them to get Kylie Jenner-lips with half the pain, half the cost, and only 90 percent of the self-loathing involved.

3. The Harlem Shake – A Manufactured Viral Hit

In 2012, Gangnam Style became the biggest thing in the history of the internet. Psy’s silly dance caught on to such a degree that the official video racked up 2.6 billion views on YouTube. You could literally make a video, upload it to YouTube, and force every single person in China to watch it twice at gunpoint and still have fewer views than Gangnam Style.

Fast forward a year, and the world was looking for the ‘next Gangnam Style‘. Only there was nothing out there. So a bunch of PR guys got together and decided to cynically manufacture a viral hit that would make them rich. Like fools, everyone fell for it. The name of that faux-viral hit? The Harlem Shake.

In 2013, Quartz magazine published a damning analysis of how corporations manufactured the viral spread of the Harlem Shake to make money. It’s a little complicated, but it basically involves a Warner Bros subsidiary, Maker Studios, ‘borrowing’ somebody’s idea and using their PR machine to get everyone on Earth watching it. Feeling cynical yet? If you could see the size of Maker Studio’s bank balance immediately after everyone started doing the Harlem Shake you would be.

2. The Condom Challenge(s) – Repeated Risk of Suffocation

There are two ‘condom challenges’ that became internet sensations, incredibly. We say ‘incredibly’ because not only should the very words ‘condom challenge’ make all right-thinking people start running as fast as they can in the other direction, but also because both involved a serious risk of suffocation.

The first iteration was probably the worst. In the hazy, halcyon days of 2013, some teens decided to outdo all previous challenges by daring one another to snort a condom. You read that right. Against everything Mother Nature had ever intended for us to experience, those who did the challenge sniffed a condom up one nostril and pulled the long, horrible bit of rubbery grossness out of their mouths. That no-one suffocated is kinda amazing.

The second iteration was also crazy. At its most-basic, it involved filling a condom with water and then putting it over your head and filming the results as you nearly drowned inside a device designed to go on men’s wieners. Although rumors of a teen suffocating surfaced in December 2015, these were only rumors and it’s thought no one actually died from the challenge. Some people claimed this was evidence the game was safe, which is kinda like miraculously surviving a multiple car pile-up and deciding you’re therefore invincible to automobiles.

1. Twerking – Cultural Appropriation and Way Too Much Miley Cyrus

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Twerking is a move born in the dance halls of Jamaica and the cities of West Africa. It’s a highly-sexualized dance with a complex history and a whole load of cultural baggage. People have been arguing for decades whether it’s sexy, misogynistic, empowering, disgusting, or just plain fun. Then 2013 rolled around, and suddenly all anyone could discuss was Miley Cyrus’s backside and Robin Thicke’s stupid song.

Twerking became an internet-powered craze after Cyrus rubbed her rump against Thicke’s stump during a TV performance of Blurred Lines. Aside from giving every single person on Earth who saw it lasting nightmares that will never cease to haunt the darkest regions of their psyches, it instantly robbed twerking of any semblance of cool and made it the least hip thing you could possibly do (with the possible exception of using ‘hip’ in a sentence). A whole history of alternative culture was wiped out in a single second by Miley’s nightmarish thrusting.

Luckily, this was one of the few times everybody seemed to unanimously agree an Internet Thing was awful. The BBC even named it their most-annoying word of the year.


Internet Crazes

– At Your Own Risk

Fun Beer Facts – WIF Edu-tainment

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Weird Facts About

the World’s Best Beers

To paraphrase famed scholar Homer Simpson, beer is the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. That’s probably why almost every country on Earth has a particular beer its denizens prefer. But each of those market dominating beers holds a secret…

10. China’s Snow Beer: Popular Despite its Taste

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Snow Beer is the single most popular beer on Earth. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s not surprising considering the beer is pretty much only sold in China, where it accounts for a dominating 84% of all sales despite the fact its parent company spends almost nothing on advertising.

In other words, Snow Beer has been able to secure the coveted title of “most popular beer on Earth” while only being available for sale in a single huge market with little to no advertising. The beer is so seldom shipped abroad that it’s considered foreign in Hong Kong and is notoriously difficult to get a hold of, even in specialty beer shops. But you’re not missing out on anything special, because according to this CNN article quizzing Chinese residents it’s bitter, flat and unappealing. Normally we’d make a quip about the power of advertising, but since Snow doesn’t advertise we’re a little lost for words.

9. America’s Bud Light: Cynically Appealing to the Buzzfeed Generation

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In recent years, Bud Light has replaced its more calorie heavy, beer gut causing cousin as the favored beer of the United States, thanks in part to amassive push on behalf of the company that owns the brand, Anheuser-Busch. They’re regarded as industry trendsetters for being one of the few companies to successfully tap the burgeoning millennials market by re-structuring itsmarketing to better appeal to young, hip, twenty-something consumers who are more concerned with tweeting, partying and taking selfies than anything those lame-ass adults care about.

While this has undoubtedly led to some innovative campaigns like the much reported on “up for whatever” campaign, which saw a thousand random young adults being invited to a town called Whatever for a weekend long party, you have to keep in mind these were all masterminded by stuffy guys in suits cynically predicting that millenials would fall for whatever marketing they shoved down their throats as long as it was on Buzzfeed or Tinder. That’s not a joke, those were both platforms they used.

What’s worse is that Bud Light spokesmen have claimed they can reach over 50% of all 21-27 year olds using these methods. Yes, Bud Light is so cynical about the predictability and manipulability of young adults that they think they can make 50% of us pay attention to one of their ads with a post on Buzzfeed. Which is kind of insulting, but also depressingly realistic if the post they’re talking about happens to have GIFs.

8. Mexico’s Corona: Limes and Wagers

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The most commonly consumed beer in Mexico and Fast and Furious movies is Corona. Unusually for a successful domestic beer, Corona enjoys a good deal of success in several foreign markets, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom. Abroad it’s almost universally consumed with a wedge of lime, something that confuses Mexican people to no end.

Despite it being considered customary to garnish Corona with lime, there’s no agreed upon consensus for why this is the case, since the beer has never been consumed that way in its native Mexico. A popular theory is that the custom was started by a New York barman for a bet in 1981, but this has never been confirmed because of course it hasn’t. Corona themselves have been tight-lipped about discussing what, if anything, the lime is supposed to do. Either they have a secret deal with a Mexican lime farmer, or they don’t check their emails.

7. Singapore’s Tiger: Time for a Tiger

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Along with being the most popular beer in both Singapore and Malaysia, Tiger is proof that the west really needs to step up its game when it comes to naming alcoholic beverages. When drinks like this and Cobra are on the market, we honestly don’t know how anyone can justify drinking anything less metal.

Since the ’30s Tiger has used the slogan “Time for a Tiger” in a great deal of its advertising, because even soulless ad agency workers can see that’s a slogan people will never get tired of hearing. One person who agreed with this sentiment was Anthony Burgress, who used the slogan as the title for a 1956 novel.

Burgress would later reveal that he chose Tiger’s slogan as the title purely because he wanted a free clock from Tiger. When Burgress asked the company if they’d send him a clock for giving them a bunch of free advertising, they rather reasonably asked if they could see a copy of the novel first. Offended at the idea of a company wanting to see if their intellectual property was being used in a way that didn’t make them look bad, Burgress went back and hastily added a line saying that Tiger Beer sucked and Carlsberg was better. The change prompted Carlsberg to send him a complimentary crate of beer.

Even though Burgress made fun of their product and generally acted like a petulant child in all correspondence with them, when Burgress visited Singapore in the ’70s Tiger tried to bury the hatchet by offering him free beer for the duration of his entire visit. Burgress heroically turned the offer down, because sometimes being a colossal jackass requires a bit of sacrifice.

6. Russia’s Baltika: Better than Coke

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As we’ve talked about before, in 1860 almost half of the Russian government’s income came from taxes placed on vodka. Russians love them some vodka,and given how much of it they drink you could be forgiven for thinking that beer isn’t a thing over there. Well, until 2013, it kind of wasn’t.

While beer is certainly sold in Russia, with the Baltika brand being the most popular overall, it wasn’t legally considered alcohol until 2013 due to a quirk in Russian law that dictated that any alcoholic drink that had a strength of less than 10% was considered a foodstuff and thus could be sold as a soft drink. Along with speaking volumes about how hardcore Russians are when it comes to drinking, it also means that prior to 2013 you can technically say that the best-selling soft drink in Russia was a beer.

5. Jamaica’s Red Stripe: Jamaican in Name, American in Spirit

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According to the marketing guys behind Red Stripe, it’s a traditional Jamaican style lager with a rich history. According to Google, Red Stripe was first brewed in Illinois for a century before it was bought out by some British guys during prohibition who then marketed it to soldiers stationed in Jamaica. After proving popular in Jamaica, Red Stripe was then marketed back to the States as an exotic foreign brew from the mysterious sun bleached sands of a tropical island. Thus proving that, with good enough marketing, you can convince people of anything.

Oddly, when Red Stripe was initially pitched to the States, it failed to catch on because they sold it in green bottles instead of the distinctive brown ones they used in Jamaica, marking the only time in history Americans complained that something being brought in from a foreign country wasn’t dark enough. A more hilarious twist came in 1989, when all shipments of Red Stripe were cancelled when it was discovered that cannabis was being smuggled in with each shipment. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Red Stripe did that on purpose just to really sell Americans on the idea that Red Stripe was from Jamaica.

4. Brazil’s Skol: Hobo Murdering Super Beer

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Although Skol is most popular in Brazil, we’d like to talk about its ill-fated foray into the British market, mostly because we get to use the phrase “murder beer.” High alcohol content beers are by no means a new thing, but Skol’s Super Beer (it’s actually called that) was on another level entirely. Unlike other high alcohol beers which are sold as premium prices, Super Beer sold for just a pound per can despite having roughly the same alcoholic content as anentire bottle of wine.

Unsurprisingly, the beer proved to be incredibly popular with the homeless to the point that it’s still a running joke in the UK to call it “tramp juice.” The government was less amused, as they noticed a concerning rise in the number homeless people drinking themselves to death after the beer and others like it became widely available. Before legislation was introduced to make access to the beer more difficult with a tariff, it was estimated that perfectly legal super-strength beers that people could buy for less than a pint of milk were killing more homeless people than crack cocaine or heroin. Perhaps even more worrying is that up until 2013, the same murder beer that was killing homeless people in the UK could have been sold like a can of Coke in Russia.

3. Japan’s Asahi: The Poo Building

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Since homeless people drinking themselves to death is kind of depressing, let’s lighten the mood by talking about Asahi, Japan’s beer of choice. More specifically, we’d like to tell you about the big building Asahi constructed that looks like it’s topped with enormous golden feces.

Built in 1989 and dubbed “one of Tokyo’s most recognizable modern structures,” the Asahi Beer Hall is supposed to resemble a frothing beer glass. It houses a beer hall where customers can sample its many products. Unfortunately, residents of Tokyo had other ideas and instead decided that the golden monument atop the building more closely resembles feces or a sperm than a frothing beer. Which wouldn’t be that bad if the building wasn’tright next to Asahi’s headquarters. That means it’s now common for people in Tokyo to refer to the headquarters of the best selling beer in their entire country as “the poo building.” But hey, it hasn’t hurt sales.

2. North Korea’s Taedonggang: Better than South Korea

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Taedonggang, which is pronounced however the hell you feel like it, is North Korea’s leading brand of beer and, according to the few outsiders who’ve had the honor of sampling it, isn’t half bad. North Korea’s crippled, outdated infrastructure has actually made it easier for Taedonggang breweries to make top notch beer, because none of the other factories in North Korea produce enough pollution to affect its otherwise pristine water supply.

As you’d expect from a country where you’re not allowed to have the same name as the guy who runs it, the only reason Taedonggang beer exists is because Kim Jong-il wanted to prove a point. Apparently the late leader got into an argument with a South Korean official at a 2000 summit in Pyongyang about the quality of North Korean beer. Incensed at the idea of South Koreans enjoying better beer than his people, he bought an entire brewery from the United Kingdom and had it shipped piece by piece to North Korea, then demanded that it begin producing better beer than South Korea. Kim Jong-il was so keen to promote this new patriotic beer that he even granted special permission for an advertisement to be run on North Korean TV, something that’s only ever been done a handful of times.

And it worked! Not only is Taedonggang the most popular beer in North Korea, the few experts who’ve tried it have admitted that it’s way better than any South Korean beer. We think we’d still prefer to live in the South, though.

1. Ireland’s Guinness: Nazis and Toucans

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Guinness had genuine plans in place to advertise in Nazi Germany during the 1936 Olympics. You know, the ones held in Germany that Hitler himselfattended. While nothing ever came of it, primarily because a London based subsidiary advised the Irish wing against pandering to Nazis, they did end up reusing one of the designs when they eventually launched in the United States a few years later.

Just to be clear, Guinness took a poster that they had originally planned to hang in bars around Nazi Germany, changed the flag in the background, and then used it announce their glorious arrival in the United States. Keep that in mind the next time St Patrick’s Day rolls around and Walmart tries to convince you to buy three crates of Guinness to celebrate.


 Fun Beer Facts

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– WIF Edu-tainment