Doubt of the Benefit (12/13/99)

Well, so much for the idea that Microsoft actually came up with something new on its own. Following yesterday's rant about the IntelliMouse Explorer, in which we expressed a certain degree of shock at what appeared to be an "honest-to-goodness example of actual Microsoft innovation," legions of eagle-eyed faithful AtAT viewers wrote in to set us straight. Matt Ball was the first to remind us of Mark Morford's recent SF Gate article. When we first read that article, Morford slammed Microsoft for being almost completely innovation-free, with the exception of the IntelliMouse Explorer; since then, it's been corrected with a note about how the Explorer's optical tracking technology was actually licensed from Hewlett-Packard. There's even a handy link to an article about Gary Gordon, the guy at HP who invented "MouseJet"-- which Microsoft licensed, repackaged, and renamed. You can read more about the MouseJet in another HP article, complete with a picture of an HP 3-button mouse with a glowing red bottom.

Okay, so the IntelliMouse Explorer's most "innovative" feature-- the any-surface optical tracking with no rolling ball-- isn't a Microsoft innovation. How about the other features, like the thumb buttons, center-positioned scrolling wheel button, and distinctly right-handed shape? Well, faithful viewer David Portela pointed out Logitech's MouseMan Wheel, which looks eerily familiar somehow. Perhaps it's the thumb button, center-positioned scrolling wheel button, and distinctly right-handed shape. And our friend Todd Wheeler has been using the MouseMan Wheel for many, many moons now, so there's no question as to which design came first. So let's see... what's left about the IntelliMouse Explorer that Microsoft could have come up with on its own? Ah, yes! The 30 MB of hard disk space required for the Windows drivers! Now that's the Microsoft we know and love. We're glad to see that they're at least maintaining their solid lead in finding new and innovative ways to bloat software beyond all reasonable limits.

We'd like to thank all of you not only for correcting our false assumption, but also for restoring our world to its full upright and locked position. If Microsoft had been the inventor of the IntelliMouse Explorer's "revolutionary" tracking technology, we'd have had to lock ourselves in a bomb shelter come New Year's Eve. Because if a true Microsoft innovation isn't a sign of the coming apocalypse, we don't know what is.

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The above scene was taken from the 12/13/99 episode:

December 13, 1999: So much for a real Microsoft innovation-- the IntelliMouse Explorer's real daddy is Hewlett-Packard. Meanwhile, Apple marketing personnel in the UK get pink slips as early Christmas gifts this year, and Apple's stock continues to take a beating (relatively speaking, of course)...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1970: "Ow! Nooks & Crannies!" (12/13/99)   Well, well, well-- the United Kingdom certainly is a hotbed of Apple drama these days, isn't it? First there was all that hubbub about Apple's continuing cancellations of Apple Expo UK. In the midst of that came the controversy over Apple's elimination of the British-localised edition of the Mac OS; beginning with Mac OS 9, those Brits will have to endure Americanizations like improper spelling and a weird new name for the Wastebasket...

  • 1971: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda (12/13/99)   That's it, it's all over; Apple's stock is now doomed. After hitting a high of 118 just a few short days ago, it's closed lower with each successive day and now rests at a lowly 99. At this point we can't imagine why the news wires aren't chock full of reports of Apple investors jumping off ledges left and right...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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