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

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

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Office Assistant Patent

Intelligent User Assistance Facility

Filed July 19th, 1996

Call this the Clippy patent–the one that’s specifically about the infamous Office Assistant introduced in Office 97. For most of us, the Office Assistant is synonymous with the talking paperclip character, but you could actually choose between multiple helpers. Including William Shakespeare or an unreasonable facsimile thereof (shown in a fuzzy patent drawing). “Will” is offering to help the user perform regression analysis here–I would have thought it intuitively obvious that anyone who knows what regression analysis is probably doesn’t want an animated version of the Bard of Avon getting involved in the process.

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