The “inventor of the toaster” Alan MacMasters fooled the world

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He was considered a national hero.The alleged inventor of the toaster fooled the entire world for 10 years

For more than a decade, a hoaxer has spun a web of hoaxes about the inventor of the electric toaster. His lies were picked up by newspapers, teachers and officials.

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According to Wikipedia, Alan MacMasters is said to have been the inventor of the electric toaster.

According to Wikipedia, Alan MacMasters is said to have been the inventor of the electric toaster.

Screenshot/Wikipedia

But the article that was on Wikipedia for 12 years was false.

But the article that was on Wikipedia for 12 years was false.

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More than a dozen books published in different languages ​​credit him as the inventor of the toaster.

More than a dozen books published in different languages ​​credit him as the inventor of the toaster.

pixabay

that’s what it’s all about

  • Two students indulged in a joke and made the Scotsman “Alan MacMasters” the inventor of the electric toaster on Wikipedia.

  • The scam went unnoticed for ten years; meanwhile, the fictional man was celebrated as a national hero in Scotland.

  • It wasn’t until 2021 that a 15-year-old student noticed something couldn’t be right with the Wikipedia article.

“I often read Wikipedia when I’m bored in class,” says Adam, 15, who is studying photography and ICT at a school in Kent, UK. to the BBC. One day in July last year, one of his teachers mentioned the online encyclopedia entry about Alan MacMasters, a late-19th-century Scottish scientist who supposedly invented “the first electric toaster.” The entrance featured the image of a man with a pronounced quiff and long sideburns gazing pensively into the distance, apparently a relic of the 19th century. Adam became suspicious. “It didn’t look like a normal photo,” he says. It seemed edited. Back home, he decided to voice his suspicions on a forum dedicated to Wikipedia vandalism.

Because like most Wikipedia articles, this one was riddled with references: news articles, books, and websites that claimed to provide evidence of the MacMasters’ life and legacy. As a result, many people accepted that MacMasters really existed.

He did it in more than a dozen books.

More than a dozen books published in different languages ​​credit him as the inventor of the toaster. And until recently, the toaster appliance was even featured on the Scottish government website as an example of the country’s “innovative and inventive spirit.”

In his supposed homeland, MacMasters had become something of a folk hero. A Scottish primary school organized a day of activities to commemorate it: children were encouraged to write journal entries about MacMasters, paint toast and pretend to make toasters out of blocks.

Edinburgh-based chef Scott Smith created an elaborate dessert in her honor while taking part in the BBC cooking show Great British Menu.

He was a candidate for the £50 note.

When the British public was asked by the Bank of England in 2018 who should feature on the next £50 note, MacMasters was nominated and included in a list of a further 988 seemingly eligible candidates who had made significant contributions to science.

The Bank of England declined to comment on the story to the BBC, but confirmed that MacMasters had been delisted after further verification. When the world first met the supposed Scottish inventor, someone in London couldn’t help but smile as the name ‘Alan MacMasters’ kept flashing across their screen: The real Alan MacMasters (30) is an aerospace engineer from London ‘and not the inventor of the toaster “, he chuckled, assuring the BBC reporter. One should not believe everything one reads on the Internet, so his message.

Students exit as authors

Because Alan knows the truth: he was there when the toaster nonsense started over a decade ago. On February 6, 2012, Alan was attending a university lecture when he warned the class not to use Wikipedia as a source. To clarify, the speaker said that a friend of his, one “Maddy Kennedy”, credited herself as the inventor of the toaster on the website.

Alan and his classmates found the story “funny” but considered correcting the article. After all, one of the special features of Wikipedia is that almost anyone can edit it. Sitting right next to Alan was one of his closest friends, Alex, who volunteered to edit the article himself. Alex recalls: “I just changed that my friend who was sitting next to me, Alan MacMasters, invented the toaster in Edinburgh in 1893.”

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