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It All Started With an Icon

In my former life I was the icon and mascot for the Lotus Word Pro programming team. But why a possum? Well it's a long story. While working on Ami Pro, Word Pro's predecessor, the programming team at Lotus's Word Processing Division in Atlanta did not make use of a conventional software version control system. Instead we had a manual system.

The master copy of the source code for Ami Pro was kept on a shared network drive. Programmers had copies of this source on their local machines. You would develop and debug on your local machine until you reached a stable point. Then you would merge your source with the source on the network. To prevent collisions, where one programmer overwrote another's changes, we had a simple system: only one programmer could take source up at any one time.

Of course this was not an efficient system. To make it more efficient, often several programmers would take source up together, avoiding collisions by verbally calling out which file they were working on. One day a group was going up together when another programmer came by and asked if they could join in. Someone in the group jokingly said, "No, you've got to be a member of the club." Someone else said "The Possum Club" and it stuck.

When we began working on Word Pro, we needed an icon to put on the Windows desktop so I designed the icon above. It was my attempt at a possums face using only basic 16 color palette in a 32 x 32 icon. From this simple icon arose a whole series of splash screens, and finally the Word Pro "Easter Egg." Click on the possum above to see more.


All Text and Images Copyright © 1990-2001 David Wittler
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