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MOPy Fish: That Conniving Devil

A clever scheme by HP to encourage office drones to print more


Thinking about Clippy the other day, I was reminded of my MOPy Fish. MOPy Fish is, as the Wikipedia entry will tell you, the world's most-downloaded cyber pet. (Not that there are very many contenders for that title.) It is basically a screen saver that acts like a pet, and encourages you to use printer ink. Fiendish, right?
The word "MOPy" is a clunky faux abbreviated phrase cooked up by the HP design team. It is short for "Multiple cOPy." The idea behind MOPy is that it would encourage people to print several copies of their document, instead of printing one copy and then taking it over to the copier and making copies. Because HP didn't run the copier, you see. HP only gets a cut of the printer ink business.

The genius behind HP's plan was to pitch MOPy to administrative assistants and other low-level office drones. Knowing that they were the ones who most frequently make print-outs and copies, and that the life of a drone is exceptionally dull. MOPy Fish was targeted at this demographic like a laser cannon.
I should know: I was one of them. In 1998 I was working at the bottom rung of an insurance brokerage. Like all drones, I wasted as much time on my computer as possible. And in a stroke of genius, the designers created MOPy Fish so that it could be installed even if you didn't have admin rights on the computer. 
Technically it was a screen saver, although most people clicked to invoke it like a video game. MOPy was a fish who swam around the black background of your monitor. If you earned enough points you could buy super food, treats, and decorations for his aquarium. 
How did you get those points? Why, by printing documents!
I told you it was fiendish.
Eventually MOPy locked up and destroyed my computer, as he did to many other users. But not before I had earned some pretty swanky aquarium decorations. I had the good fortune (from a MOPy perspective) to be the assistant to a manager who asked that we print out all of his emails, as well as transcribing all of his voice mails and printing those out as well. 
News of "the MOPy Fish virus" began to circulate among the IT staff, as well. In the end, MOPy was banned from our workplace. Although not before everyone learned the cheat code to unlimited points, thus decorating their MOPy tanks with serious bling.