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

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

Summary: One of Microsoft's early US patents had nothing to do with computers. Drawings show a reading stand and book holder that Microsoft patented in 1986.

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Legal
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  • 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
  • Figure 1 of the US patent documentation, shows an isometric view of Microsoft's holder with the lid closed. A book (20) is shown inside the holder. The inventors envisioned the holder being made of a transparent material to "permit the contents of the older to be identified without requiring any external labels." The "double-acting" hinges (18) are also shown.

    The inventors believed their design was an improvement on previous "holders," as it had better hinges and provided a stable support for open books even if they were "substantially shorter and narrow than the holder."

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 4,588,074 - Digitized by Google
  • Figure 2 shows the holder with the lid in an open position, and a book resting on the lid "at an angle that is convenient for the reader." This drawing was also used on the first page of the patent application.

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 4,588,074 - Digitized by Google
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Topics: Microsoft, Legal

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

    A clear example of Microsoft innovation.
    paul.watson
    • RE: Bizarre Microsoft patent: Clear box that's a reading stand and book holder

      @paul.watson punny....
      nickdangerthirdi@...
  • you can patent anything

    Perhaps they'll dig back to this high-tech work from the '80's and use this as the basis for their iPad response.
    peltierd
  • Compare to...

    From 1979-1984, Apple accomplished the industrial design, OS and GUI implementation of the first Macintosh.
    From 1981-1985, Microsoft accomplished the industrial design of a book holder and Windows 1.0 on a recycled MS-DOS OS.
    peltierd
    • RE: Bizarre Microsoft patent: Clear box that's a reading stand and book holder

      And the Macintosh was such a wildly successful industrial design, it managed to get 5.5% of the PC market share in 1988. (1.5% more than it has today, demonstrating the impact of its design.)

      And all the PC makers copied the Mac's wonderful industrial design. All the PC's had CPU and monitor integrated, with a black and white screen, and 1 button mouse.

      Yes, believe it or not, Apple created the industrial design of a monochrome screen.

      And Apple invented the GUI of course. Xerox Palo Alto used their time machine to steal Apple's patented innovation so Xerox could implement it in 1973, 6 years before Steven Jobs led a team to Xerox to learn about implementing a GUI, so Apple could implement it first for Xerox to steal later...
      hickum
    • Interesting.

      If such a device was manufactured, would it have outsold the Macintosh?
      Tim Cook
  • RE: Bizarre Microsoft patent: Clear box that's a reading stand and book holder

    Those were the containers many MS products shipped in at the time. That is the size the manuals were. Providing a book stand for those heavy books was a good idea. I don't know that they needed to patent it, but they did.
    mswift@...
    • Nice to see an informed, educated reply around here for once.

      @mswift@...

      Kudos to you :)
      kaninelupus
    • RE: Bizarre Microsoft patent: Clear box that's a reading stand and book holder

      @mswift@... This is absolutely correct. This followed an even nicer product design, used for MS Chart, that had a ring binder that opened into a stand for the manual. Very nice indeed and a fond memory.
      QuantumForce
  • RE: Bizarre Microsoft patent: Clear box that's a reading stand and book holder

    I think you get the "most relevantly informative comment of the day" award mswift.
    caburlingame
  • Maybe

    Maybe if they didn't patent it, we'd still have printed manuals shipped with our hardware and software :)
    wkulecz