Where Are They Now: Clippy

b2ap3_thumbnail_clippy400It looks like you’re trying to read a blog letter. Would you like help with that? If Microsoft’s animated Office assistant Clippy were here, he would undoubtedly be on the corner of the page distracting you from getting anything done. The last time we saw Clippy was in 2003. What has Clippy been up these past ten years?

For those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting Clippy, you must have missed out on using any version of Microsoft Office from 1997 through 2003. Clippy was a charming animated paper clip with big googly eyes that came with every Office application. It was easy to summon Clippy, all you had to do was open a program like Word, type “Dear,” and then Clippy would appear out of some portal and start offering you advice on letter writing, whether you wanted it or not.

Occasionally, Clippy would actually offer you useful advice, but most of the time Clippy would just hang out at the corner of your screen and do weird things like stare at you or dance a jig. Most people found Clippy to be highly aggravating and thought he did more harm than help, which is what lead to his termination by Microsoft (and for the purpose of this article, we’re going to assume Clippy is male, it’s difficult to be sure about the gender of a paper clip).

After Clippy was let go, he did what any just-released star would do and attempted to land a movie deal in Hollywood. What Clippy had going for him was that he was well connected. After all, he did help write all the big movie scripts, even if the writers did not want his help.

The first favor Clippy called in was to Luxo, Pixar’s lamp spokesman. Before Clippy landed a gig at Microsoft, him and Luxo worked together on a Pixar movie in the 80’s called Luxo Jr. Luxo was the star and Clippy had an uncredited cameo. They kept in touch over the years and Luxo tried to get Clippy a role on Pixar’s biggest animated film of the year, Finding Nemo; but it turned out that a metal paper clip was not right for a movie set in the ocean. All Clippy could do was sink to the bottom, which greatly hindered his ability to contribute to the project.

Clippy kept trying out for movie roles, but was turned down at every corner. It turned out movie studios were looking for characters that children could identify with, like animals and toys, and they were not interested in casting googly eyed office products. Clippy knew his acting career was dead when he was turned away for a part in Veggie Tales.

Clippy then did what any self-respecting former star would do, conventions and trade shows. If there was a tech convention anywhere, you would be sure to find Cippy hanging out at a booth hawking autographs. Clippy did okay working the trade show circuit, but it was difficult because he was often confronted by Microsoft Office users that expressed their frustration with Microsoft to Clippy with a swift punch or a kick. The beatings got old for Clippy and he eventually stopped doing trade shows and took a job at Staples Office supply store heading up customer service.

Clippy worked at Staples for a few years and he liked the work okay, but he longed for the day of again being able to help people around the world work on their projects. Clippy’s luck has recently changed with the boom in the app market. It turns out that a loyal fan from Clippy’s past named Linus Torvalds wanted to put Clippy back in the public eye with his startup company Smore. The team at Smore used JavaScript to give Clippy a new career helping people while surfing the Internet. You can download Clippy yourself here.

Clippy is enjoying his new home at Smore, and he can even be followed on Twitter @TheClippy. Although, it seems like Clippy’s year in showbiz and his release from Microsoft has given him quite the attitude and it looks like Clippy has developed a drinking problem. Be sure to follow Clippy’s snarky comments on Twitter, and download the new and improved Clippy from Smore if you want to give you modern technology a nostalgic touch from the 90’s.

What are your feelings about Clippy? Love him? Hate him? Do you remember the other Microsoft Office characters Clippy worked with? Share your thought with us in the comments!

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