CXO

Bizarre Microsoft patent: Clear box that's a reading stand and book holder

Holder For Storing And Supporting Articles - Abstract

One of Microsoft's earliest US patents had nothing to do with computer software or hardware. These drawings show a reading stand and book holder that Microsoft got a patent for in 1986.

U.S. Patent number: 4,588,074
Filed: Mar. 21, 1985
Issued: May 13, 1986
Inventor: David W. Strong, et al.
Assignee: Microsoft Corporation

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

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."

Image taken from U.S. Patent 4,588,074 - Digitized by Google

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...

23 comments
JSMc
JSMc

I got one with the MSDOS api book. It really worked quite well.

crowleye
crowleye

I'm glad to see that Microsoft will have something to fall back on once this computer "fad" has faded.

sharpear
sharpear

I don't understand the point of this article. The patent was for "1985". This would be the start of a consumer based computer era. This would have been high tech back in the day, when people first started typing. This article was a waste of your time, and my time for looking through it to realize this was 25 year ago invention. Work on finding new topics, not something that is outdated.

jsayyid
jsayyid

Sound like a good idea, Microsoft need's to market the product. Being IT student some of the books are very large, and all of them are thick because of the depth of the books, however I would think if put into college book stores this item would sell very well!

regmigrant
regmigrant

Clearly an early attempt to follow the Steve Jobs approach of patenting the blindingly obvious and then sueing for subsequent infringement, then taking over the world got in the way and they found money in actually producing software instead

mugipw
mugipw

So I understand now, it is Microsoft's long time tradition to make a difficult to open packaging, just like the "pocket knife" style packaging for MS Office 2007....

JSMc
JSMc

I remember getting the MS-DOS API manual in one of those boxes. It actually worked well.

frances
frances

Gee I wonder if they've sued any of those people who've made and sold cookbook stands for patent infringement.

rdb45594
rdb45594

Lot's of patients are bizarre, like Velcro for instance. Richard

tomadam
tomadam

I still have one. It came with Microsoft Project

pmschenck
pmschenck

if my memory serves me right some of the early Microsoft software was shipped in these boxes. Some of the DOS applications.

ciakrook
ciakrook

Hey, could have been the first laptop stand!

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I guess no one ever looked at a Civil War unit Clerk's field desk - "a holder for books and similar items that both store the books and support them in an open position at a fixed angle, even if the books are substantially shorter and narrower than the holder." So if Microsoft patented the Box, what does that make the X-Box? Happy Friday. :-)

trapper
trapper

Or perhaps what is novel is that it lacks dividers and probably couldn't stand up to a long wagon journey.

pschulan
pschulan

It looks like something you'd see on HSN about 3 in the morning. Note: book (item 20) not included!

DucksRGood
DucksRGood

Wow, back in the day when the User Guide for the software package was a big part of the contents of the retail box, this would have been a very cool packaging for software. A transparent 'keepsake' box for geeks!

pc.medic.suffolk
pc.medic.suffolk

Mmmmm ... just like Windows, someone else's idea, re-packaged. No change then!

RipVan
RipVan

How did that idea ever do...?

pschulan
pschulan

Yeah. They probably dropped the idea when they realized people would run out of shelf space, and buy less software!