Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995
Bob was introduced as an add-on in Windows 3.1 in 1995. He was a 'helpful friendly guy' intended to make the interaction with Windows more intuitive. And of course, everybody hated him.
The project was lead by Melinda French, who later became Mrs. Gates. I’m just speculating here, but maybe that’s why this sorry pile of code wasn’t scrapped altogether, but instead used as the core of the next MS-failure: The Paperclip.
Yup, the clip we all loved to hate, the Jar Jar Binks of software, was actually built on the remains of Bob's algorithms. Put crap in and you get crap out. Oh, and the story doesn’t stop there.
Now, imagine George Lucas taking Jar Jar Binks ears and putting them on Yoda in Episode II, because "he wasn’t that bad, was he?" He didn’t do that, because he’s smart. George Lucas doesn’t work for Microsoft, so indeed the ears were carried on. The dog Rover that was originally included in Bob was included in the search-feature in Windows XP...
It took Windows Vista to finally kill of the code-remains of Melinda Gates' Project Bob. But, as you know, the internet is made of cats, so maybe it’ll return in some bizarre form in Windows Azure.