All your base are belong to us

February 23rd, 2001 – February 23rd, 2007

A few years ago, this was the first viral campaign that reached me online. “All your base are belong to us” was a self-propagating message and for the first time in history had a rapid spread across the net and around the world as it drawn mainstream media interest.

I remember that I was one of the people involved – at that time, 2001-2002, I was a web designer and I stumbled upon this website. It was fun and indeed it opened my mind to the infinite possibilities you can explore on the Internet. I remember faking some of the pictures you can see online and even introducing the hidden paragraph “all your base are belong to us” in the pages ordered by my clients.

Today I had to prepare a paper about the viral campaigns and I remembered this.

Notable references in popular culture – from Wikipedia:

* On February 23, 2001, Wired provided an early report on the phenomenon in an article entitled “When Gamer Humor Attacks,” which covered everything from the Flash animation to its spread through e-mail and Internet forums to T-shirts bearing the phrase.

* In the March 12, 2001 edition of FoxTrot, Jason Fox (the nerdy youngest child) began to shout, “All your base are belong to us!” confusing his parents. Bill Amend has been known to incorporate “geek culture” into his comic strips, such as the MMORPG World of Warquest.

* On March 21, 2001, online parody news source The Onion jumped in to the fray with an article titled “Congress Adds ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ Amendment To Bankruptcy Bill”, written in a style that conformed to the original gaffe-fueled fad. Stating that the U.S. House of Representatives had voted to do so “Seeking to increase fiscal accountability among citizens who have no chance to survive make their time,” in a measure disputed by opponents as “potentially set up U.S. the bomb.”

* On January 6, 2002, an episode of the television show Futurama (“Anthology of Interest II,” episode #403) featured a segment in which a robot from the arcade game Berzerk said, “All your base are belong to us.”

* On April 1, 2003, in Sturgis, Michigan, seven people aged 17 to 20 placed signs all over town that read, “All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time.” They said they were playing an April Fool’s joke by mimicking the famous Flash animation that ubiquitously depicted the slogan. Not many people who saw the signs were familiar with the joke, however. Many residents were upset that the signs appeared while the U.S. was at war with Iraq, and police chief Eugene Alli said the signs could be “a borderline terrorist threat depending on what someone interprets it to mean.”

* In February 2004, an automated news ticker on News 14 Carolina, a North Carolina cable channel, was hacked to display the message on television.

* When Google launched Google Base in October 2005, the phrase was twisted into “All Your Base Are Belong To Google” by search industry watchers such as John Battelle. Furthermore, in Google’s Hacker Translation, the “Personalized Home” link has been translated into “4LL `/0|_||2 B453,” which is Leet for “All Your Base.”

* On June 1, 2006, the video hosting website YouTube was taken down temporarily for maintenance. The phrase “ALL YOUR VIDEO ARE BELONG TO US” appeared below the YouTube logo as a placeholder while the site was down. Some users believed the site had been hacked, leading the host to add the message “No, we haven’t been hacked. Get a sense of humor.”
* In July of 2006, changed one of its 404 error pages to an AYB reference
* In August of 2006 Google referenced AYB while announcing the publishing of a dataset of five-word sequences for use by the general public saying “All Our N-gram are Belong to You”.

And here is a video that made this movement so famous: