The Secret Origins of Clippy: Microsoft’s Bizarre Animated Character Patents

By  |  Friday, January 2, 2009 at 12:31 am

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Clippy Patent

Method for Managing Simultaneous Display of Multiple Windows in a Graphical User Interface

Filed July 15th, 1997

Here’s Clippy himself–who was, by the way, officially known as “Clippit”–in a drawing from a patent relating to Office’s need to wrangle the main application window and the smaller one that the Office Assistant lived in. (Later versions of the Assistant sat right on top of your documents.) Read the whole patent, and you’ll see that Microsoft put immense effort into the technical logistics of implementing Clippy. He wasn’t the spawn of a moment of temporary insanity; he was the result of a vast amount of cold, calculating effort.

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