[ Retro Scan of the Week ] All Hail Bob, Destroyer of Worlds

August 9th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

Micron P75 Home MPC Computer Microsoft Bob Worship Ad - 1995The pagan god manifests in many forms, demanding a tribute of small children.

This image is part of a two-page double-sided fold out ad attached to the back cover of Home PC magazine. Its main subject was not actually Microsoft Bob, but a Micron P75 PC (click there to see that page).

Microsoft designed Bob (1995) to serve as a friendly graphical interface and operating environment for beginners, but the product flopped mightily and has since become a tech punchline.

Speaking of Bob, my buddy Harry McCracken has written more about Microsoft Bob than any other living human being on the planet. A good place to start would be his Bob Chronicles, which talks about the origins and history of Bob.

[ From Home PC, September 1995, back cover flap ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used Microsoft Bob? What did you think about it?

10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] All Hail Bob, Destroyer of Worlds”

  1. Eagles409 Says:

    I tried it for about a half second at a store kiosk once, it was pretty obvious why it failed. Does anyone remember the Packard Bell Living Room? It was some sort of Windows navigation overlay. I remember I couldn’t get that off the computer fast enough. I still have a copy of it if anyone wants to torture themselves.

  2. Keir Hardie Says:

    @Eagles409, I once encountered the Packard Bell Living Room and had a similar response. It was incredibly slow on the computer it was on which helped.

  3. SirPaul Says:

    I didn’t use Microsoft Bob, nor did I use the Packard-Bell Living room, but I did use the older Packard-Bell Navigator from my old 486SX/50, which, according to my 10-year old self, wasn’t TOO bad. The “kids’ room” area was a bit of an eye-roller, and it is what I’d think Microsoft Bob is similar to.

  4. Stan Says:

    While few people actually used Bob, the fruits of the Bob project appeared in other Microsoft software, such as Clippy in MS Office, and the various animated animals in XP that help you search.

    I can’t think of a technology that was more universally hated by users.

  5. BDD Says:

    I think I still have my (downloaded) copy of Bob. I played around with it a bit and got a good laugh out of it. It’s pretty worthless, and about as cheesy and insipid as eWorld was on the Mac (anyone remember that?). Plus, it runs like crap under Windows 95. I think it was meant for 3.1.

  6. Brian Says:

    Bob was meant for Windows 3.1. It came with my Micron PC. In fact … I probably had *that exact* Micron PC (the 90mhz version). I still have the CD in a binder.

  7. Phillip P Says:

    I’ve played with Bob much more recently (about 2 years ago) under Virtual PC running WinME, and I was not impressed overall, but did find the experience somewhat entertaining(like placing a firefox program link in it).

  8. SQLGuru Says:

    I really need to take a picture of my MS-BOB clock and post it. I went to MS Tech Ed that year (it was in New Orleans and I worked in New Orleans). I would up with two copies because they were giving it to attendees and a friend passed his to me as well as the one I got. I loaded it to play with it, but of course didn’t care much for it. I took a double-hinge CD case and some old clock parts and made a clock out of the other one. The CD case makes a perfect stand and the clock hands going around the CD (which has the same yellow smilie w/ glasses) looks perfect. I should really replace the hands with some that look more like mickey-hands instead of traditional pointers, but I’ve had that clock for around 15 years.

  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    You should post a picture of that clock, SQLGuru. I’d enjoy seeing it.

  10. Cody Says:

    I never used Bob, but I want to talk about the advertisement. There’s a couple little things in there people might miss.

    See how they’re calling it an MPC? That’s what they did back then, because CD-ROMs were still just coming out. CD-ROM + Sound Card + Speakers = MPC, and that itself was kind of funny because there wasn’t a whole lot you could do with it at the time; games and everything else were still coming out on 3.5″ disks.

    I don’t remember Windows even being on CD until ’95 (though this advert says it’s a CD version), and even THEN that was also available on 15 or so 3.5″ disks too. Trust me, that was a pain installing (though I think only the first 9 or so were required). Hey, DOS itself was 3 disks by that time anyway wasn’t it?

    CD-ROMs were a bit of a pain to use. In DOS you had to use this program called MSCDEX to load them up, and drivers were hit and miss. Movies could sometimes be bought (especially overseas) in VCD form split over 2 CDs and in grainy quality. It seemed like an eternity for DVDs to be invented and become as ubiquitous as they are now.

    Micron the company rings a bell, but the whole branding of it as P75 was really common at the time of the Pentium CPU brand. It was basically P and how fast it was.

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