Gary Ross Dahl, Pet Rock

AP Photo/Marguerite Dahl

It's fitting that Gary Dahl's passing was announced on April 1, as his invention, the Pet Rock, is perhaps one of the greatest April Fools' jokes ever pulled on consumers.

(Besides Apple convincing people they need an iPhone that they can strap to their wrist).

Dahl died at the age of 78 in Oregon on March 23 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Marguerite Dahl, his wife of 40 years, confirmed on Wednesday.

Long before kids were raising Tamagotchis, a toy fad in the '70s was sweeping the nation, and it all started because Dahl made a joke about owning a pet rock to some friends. The advertising copywriter quickly got to work creating a "home" for the Pet Rock to live in, complete with air holes and a ridiculous owner's manual. 

Pet Rock

Al Freni/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Image

"Your Pet Rock will be a devoted friend and companion for many years to come," read Dahl's original booklet. "Rocks enjoy a rather long life span so the two of you will never have to part -- at least not on your Pet Rock account. Once you have transcended the awkward training stage your rock will mature into a faithful, obedient, loving pet with but one purpose in life—to be at your side when you want it to, and to go lie down when you don't."

Dahl started selling the product for $3.95 a piece around Christmas of 1975, and his two-man operation quickly grew into a 300-person crew. In a matter of months, he had sold over a million Pet Rocks. And though the fad died down by the time 1976 was well under way and people wanted pogo sticks instead of a rock in a box, Dahl's ingenious marketing savvy will always be legendary.

Thank you, Mr. Dahl, for bringing us the original business April Fools prank. Companies on the Internet today will be trying to replicate your magic. And now, we'll leave you with a piece of wisdom about the inventor of the Pet Rock, courtesy of Office Space:

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