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

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

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User Interface for Illiterates Patent

Computer Interface for Illiterate and Near-Illiterate Users

Filed January 25th, 2006

This patent (which was filed less than three years ago) pitches on-screen assistants as an interface for people who can’t read or write. The garb of the lady shown here is explained by the fact that the patent is the result of work by researchers in India; the parent says that the assistant could also be a dog, an elephant, or an airplane. It’s scary to think that the idea behind Bob and Clippy hasn’t completely fizzled out, but look on the bright side–if you’re reading this story, Microsoft isn’t going to try and get you to use any product based on this patent.

If you’re all patented out by now, I understand. If not, here are a few more galleries of patent drawings–from the historic to the utterly mysterious:

Apple Patentmania: 31 Years of Big Ideas
The Santaland Patents
The Golden Age of Electronic Games

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