Apps optimize

Microsoft once patented a reading stand and book holder

In 1986, Microsoft was granted a US patent for a clear box that would function as a holder and reading stand for books and magazines.

In 1985, a group of individuals from Microsoft designed a case that would act as both a holder and reading stand for books and magazines. The inventors included David Strong, Patricia McGinnis, James Peterson, Vern Raburn, Horothy Hall, David Fleck, and Steven Ballmer. (Yes, that Steven Ballmer.)

Photo credit: USPO - U.S. Patent 4,588,074 - Digitized by Google

The patent describes the devices as "a holder for books and similar items that may be used to both store the books and support them in open position at a fixed angle, even if the books are substantially shorter and narrower than the holder." You can see all eight drawings from the US patent for Microsoft's Holder For Storing And Supporting Articles in this gallery.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

12 comments
ps.techrep
ps.techrep

The basic design for a box whose lid is formed by slicing off a corner has been around for centuries. Neither the shape, the material nor the hinge design should have qualified this for a patent. That anyone could get a US Patent for this rediscovery of a well-established idea probably motivated Microsoft to rely on FUD and secrecy to protect its intellectual property.

andylyke
andylyke

Preachers have been using these things for centuries - now Micro$oft "patents" it. The Patent Office has run its course and will now patent anything someone can pay the thousands of dollars to file for. This is how the wealthy and powerful keep the little people at bay. USA-RIP

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Nothing to see here, they can go about their business.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I used to make something similar out of a coat hanger. I used them to hold college textbooks in the late '70s. Bend down a couple of inches on either end to prop it up, then twist the hook around to fit between the pages and hold it open.

abc123a
abc123a

Why is this article part of IT Dojo? Unless this demonstrates the innovation capabilities of Microsoft? Why waste the bandwidth? The fact that Bill Detwiler Head Technology Editor of TechRepublic is writing this is makes this even more troubling. This had ZERO learning value and was not even worth a laugh. JDS

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I think this gallery has "learning value" on several levels. If I didn't, I wouldn't have posted it. First, it illustrates how tech companies often step outside their realm of expertise--even if just for a single patent. Sometimes the ideas turn into successful products. Sometimes they don't. Second, these early patents often illustrate a company's thought process behind a specific product or family of products. That's extremely useful as we look at the current technologies that companies are investing in. Third, there is benefit when studying most subjects, technology included, to examining broad range related topics. Understanding one of Microsoft's strange early patents might not provide the same tactical knowledge as this week's TR Dojo episode on ways to clean a dirty keyboard (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1920), but it still have value for the all the reasons I've outlined here.

seanferd
seanferd

Not sure it is hemorrhoids, though.

Jaqui
Jaqui

best viewing angle of a book is the same for a laptop. carrying such a device around has the same issues a laptop imposes. I bet it was even close in size and weight to a laptop. so I would hazard a guess the book reader was a study of how to carry portable computers that were smaller than the old luggables.

seanferd
seanferd

It demonstrates something about the U.S. patent system. Consider this patent in terms of Gates' views on IP early in the MS days, and his views on IP once MS really took off.

Jaqui
Jaqui

bud, the butt plug is not supposed to be in place permanently. ]:

cmiller5400
cmiller5400

There are a lot of other ailments, but I figured that one was probably most common for someone that is sitting at a computer to be in a bad mood :D