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

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

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Animated Assistant Patent

Conversational Interface Agent

Filed March 14th, 2002

The text of this relatively recent patent maintains that the problem with animated assistants up until that time was that they were too cartoony, and more realistic humans would work better. That’s a slap in the face to every anthropomorphic office supply, domestic animal, woodland creature, and deceased playwright that Microsoft had called into service to help its users up into that point. And almost seven years later, I haven’t seen ordinary-person assistants catching on in Microsoft products or anywhere else.

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