A woman in France accidentally received a phone bill of €11,721,000,000,000,000 (million billion). This was 5000x the GDP of France at the time. It took several days of wrangling before the phone company finally admitted it was a mistake and she owed just €117.21. They let her off.
IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad started his journey to becoming the 8th richest man in the world at age 5, by selling matches to his neighbors. He bought matches in bulk, cheaply & re-sold them at a very low price while still making a good profit, the same basic model used later at IKEA.
As of 2018 most of the early cryonics companies that froze dead bodies for future revival had gone out of business, and their stored corpses have been thawed and disposed of.
In the 1960s, the CEO of Ampex wanted his employees to take LSD to improve their creativity. The board of directors said no, and then had to fire him after they discovered he’d snuck off anyway on a mountain hike with seven or eight engineers and given them LSD.
In 1955, Burma-Shave ran a promotion for a free trip to Mars if someone sent in 900 empty bottles of their product. It was intended to be a joke, but when a man from Wisconsin duly sent in 900 bottles, they scrambled to honour the promotion; sending him to Moers, Germany.
Ole Kirk Christiansen, a Danish carpenter, suffered huge losses after a fire broke out in his woodworking shop that made furniture. He descended into bankruptcy and decided to start making small wood items, including toys. He even renamed his company to ‘leg godt’ (‘play well’) or Lego.
While best known for its railroad operations, the Southern Pacific Company also owned and operated telegraph and telephone lines under the name Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Networking Telephony, which would later become the telecommunications company known by the acronym “Sprint.”
A car dealership ran an ad for a 1983 Cadillac stating “first 10,000 bananas takes it.” To the dealership’s surprise two brothers showed up with 10,000 bananas and won the car in a court case ruling false advertisement.
The last Blockbuster on earth, in Bend, OR uses floppy disks to boot their system, employees have to hand print cards because their printers broke, and transactions are backed up on a reel-to-reel tape that can’t be replaced because Radio Shack went out of business.
In 2015, Whole Foods tried to sell Asparagus Water for $6 (literally three stalks of asparagus in a bottle of water). Twitter users made fun of the company for selling such a ridiculously pricey item. The company’s CEO then issued an apology and pulled off the product from the shelves.