Looking Back at Microsoft Bob

Every industry has at least one. Automobiles had the Edsel. PC Hardware had the IBM PCJr and the Microchannel bus. In the software world, there’s Bob. If you don’t remember him, Bob was Microsoft’s 1995 answer to why computers were so darn hard to use. [LGR] gives us a nostalgic look back at Bob and concludes that we hardly knew him.

Bob altered your desktop to be a house instead of a desk. He also had helpers including the infamous talking paper clip that suffered slings and arrows inside Microsoft Office long after Bob had been put to rest.

Microsoft had big plans for Bob. There was a magazine and add-on software (apparently there was only one title released). Of course, if you want to install Bob yourself, you’ll need to boot Windows 3.1 — this is 1995, remember.

To log in you had to knock on the big red door and then tell the helpful dog all your personal information. Each user had a private room and all users would share other rooms.

We like to feature retrocomputing of the great old computers of our youth. This is kind of the anti-example of this. Bob was a major fail. PC World awarded it 7th place in the 25 worst tech products of all time and CNet called it the number one worst product of the decade.

Once you’ve had enough of 1995 failed software, you can always read up on some more successful Z80 clones. Or you can further back in the way back machine and see what user interfaces were like in the 1960s and 1970s.