The man behind Microsoft's Clippy shares its backstory

Originally published at: The man behind Microsoft's Clippy shares its backstory | Boing Boing

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The one job I’ve had where I absolutely had to use Windows, it was only the lowest-end dell POS ever built with Windows XP 1.0. It would hang up in absolutely any mouse click and go BSOD if more than one operation was happening at a time. The little flashlight animation bothered me so much more than Clippy. The piece of trash can’t even complete a typed word without hanging, yet it successfully loads a damn animation to tell me that it’s having trouble executing a command.

I also absolutely hated the use of the term “Wizard”. It’s not magic, it’s computing! It’s just because the environment makes it so miserable to do anything at all that it seems like magic when something actually works (but of course, nothing ever worked in the Wizards).


In the 98-XP days, whenever I got a new computer or had to re-install the OS (yes, that was a thing we did fairly regularly) one of the first things I would have to do is figure out how to completely disable Clippy.


I remember Microsoft Bob! It came with my first home computer - an NEC 586 with Windows 95. I tried using Bob - it had a pretty “office” interface that had a window that looked out over a cityscape - but found it easier just to use Windows, itself.

I remember replacing Clippy with a cat.

Those were the days!

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While I didn’t loathe Clippy, I preferred the little robot “assistant” that looked like Number 5 from Short Circuit


When the “I love you” virus made its way around our office, the poor little robot looked like it was having seizures due to the extreme firehose flow of emails.

Johnny five is alive!!! :slight_smile:

But yeah; Cute idea, but typical for Microsoft, completely botched execution.

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Earl. He was my standard.



So who came up with Pushie?

When did Great Big Story start making videos again? I was about to point out that this was a years-old video and hardly news but checking the video page it came out this week?

I used to love their tiny documentaries but they shut down a couple of years ago

All of the people I knew in the late 90s detested Clippy, because absolutely everyone I hung out with at work and socially had been a nerd in the industry for the previous 20 years or more. Mocking Clippy was just a thing we all did.

One day I was helping a family member with a Word document and Clippy appeared, offering to get in the way. I remember telling them I could disable him so it wouldn’t bother them anymore, but they said “No, I like him!” I was blown away, never having realized anyone liked it. But for the non-computer-nerd, he was a friendly assistant without all the “hateful nerd attitude.”

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I’ll just leave this here:

Clippy walked so Bonzi Buddy could run…through my registry, leaving all kinds of bullshit in his wake.

Best line - “Once I got to where I liked it, I would scan it in, then start working on it digitally on my Macintosh”

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