90s kids who have had to struggle with citations in their homework, don’t lie – you definitely know who Clippy is!
Way before Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri become the voices of our all-around assistants, Microsoft’s Clippy was on-call to solve all our MS Office document dilemmas. The trusty office tool – which is literally just a paperclip with eyes – was often taken as the annoying Microsoft animated assistance whenever it popped up as we worked on our assignments during the early 2000s.
But let’s face it: we do sort of miss the pesky paperclip. Presumably, because we yearn for a time when meeting our midnight deadlines for school was already our biggest source of stress, Microsoft pounced on the chance to bring Clippy back. Through a now-viral tweet, Microsoft offered social media users a deal that if their photo of a revamped Clippy reaches 20,000 likes, they will replace the Microsoft 365 paperclip emoji with the anthropomorphic assistant.
And boy, did social media deliver.
The mere mention of Clippy seemingly unlocked a space in our minds we haven’t accessed in years, including one that recalled other Microsoft Office assistants like Merlin, Links the Cat, the Red Dot, and Will, a rather corny caricature of William Shakespeare.
Within less than a day of the tweet’s posting, it reached its target, which means that the long-retired Clippy has returned. However, not as a virtual assistant, but as a reanimated emoji for Microsoft 365 and a nostalgia-themed virtual background for Microsoft Teams.
“We had to use this opportunity to make a change that only we could truly make — so long flat, standard paperclip, and hello Clippy!” Claire Anderson, art director and emojiologist, wrote in a blog by Microsoft Design. “Sure, we may use fewer paper clips today than we did in Clippy’s heyday, but we couldn’t resist the nostalgic pull.”
So Clippy’s back, but not as the annoying assistant we all know from childhood. That’s a win, right?