If you had a PC in the early 2000s and didn’t have proper antivirus software you might end up with a helpful purple ape known as BonziBuddy crowding your desktop. BonziBuddy can talk, tell jokes, “sing,” and also annoy you. He also promises to help you use the internet. If you don’t know about BonziBuddy, than it sounds pretty weird to you.
Where Does BonziBuddy Come From?
Nowadays, virtual assistants look normal. Siri, Alexa, Google, and also Cortana are household names, and we just accept the idea that a dummy body human-sounding voice can help us do our daily tasks. Well, it makes some sort of sense, but who in their right mind would think that you’d want a BonziBuddy to help you use the internet in 1999?
To answer the question, we have to move back to search another identical face from the past: Clippy. As part of the Office 97 launch, Microsoft launched Office Assistant, an animated character that pops up to help you do things as you worked. However, its default skin was Clippit or a paper clip with googly eyes and a penchant for bothering you whenever you begin working on a document.
Microsoft launched this assistant feature after “tragically misunderstanding” a University (Stanford ) study that checks humans emotionally respond to PCs in a similar way they react to people. In MS collective mind, this meant they should initiate adding voices or faces on their screens. So that we would enjoy using our PCs more. It didn’t exactly the same manner.
Clippy was designed on a technology known as Microsoft Agent. The agent itself was derived from code that was first launched in Microsoft Bob. Microsoft Agent enables the developers of third-party to add their own assistants to their apps. However, these assistants can talk, perform actions, or answer commands. The company also created 4 default characters that developers could select from:
- Merlin the Wizard
- Robby the Robot
- Genie the Genie
- Peedy the Parrot
The team of Microsoft plans to make their own character while creating Clippy, besides using one of the defaults. Microsoft creates a separate character that is based on the help icon to move you through the whole process of Windows XP’s installation.
While Microsoft can’t use any of its generic characters. Peedy the Parrot can find a home outside the company. BONZI software third-party developer used Peedy as the 1st model of its standalone helper program “BonziBUDDY.” Microsoft had considered these assistants to be wrapped with other programs. But Bonzi’s assistant was build to help with everything. Also, it sits on your PC’s all the time, talk to you every once in a while, and you could ask it to do things such as…well, frankly, it wasn’t that essential, but it’s fun to hear it.
After a few iterations of the program, Bonzi plans that they don’t want to use the generic character that anyone could use. However, the company creates its own cartoon character that was somehow foolish than a talking green parrot, a talking purple monkey. However, any developer can add Peedy in their programs, only Bonzi had their trademark monkey.
Bonzi, Tell Me a Joke
BonziBuddy might have essentially been a worse model of Clippy. But it has one thing that is quite different from Clippy didn’t have: It can’t be tied to office software. Or any apps for that matter. It means that anyone from 8-year-olds to their grandmothers could install or download the “cute purple monkey” and play with it just for fun. BonziBuddy was free but many young people learned not to download or install things just because they’re free.
Bonzi’s speech engine was massive around the time it was launched in 1999. However, speech synthesizers existed well before that, some people aren’t the user-friendly method to play with them. Bonzi can occasionally speak up to share a lame joke or sing a song in a sickly robotic voice, but he talked very funnily.
Bonzi also offer lots of practical features. You can also use the built-in calendar to keep a record of your events. You could sync your POP3 email so Bonzi can read off your text messages to you. That…was about it. You can also open a box to input a search term or website address and Bonzi can pass it off to your browser. But it’s also more difficult than just opening your browser directly. Also, BonziBuddy was more essential as a toy than a real productivity program. Bonzi also has had an awful habit of randomly swinging on a green vine from one side of your PC to another.
BonziBuddy also promotes other programs of Bonzi Softwares. Also, it uses ambiguous popups that seem like official Windows notification. It has Bonzi Software’s real software hit, a voice email app. This app enables you to record audio and attach an image to the email. They also offered Internet notification 99, which was a reverse firewall, and Internet Boost, which claimed to enhance your internet speed after tweaking “different configuration parameters used by the Microsoft TCP/IP stack.” It was also the begining of BonziBuddy’s descent into earning the harmful label it has today.
The Users vs. BonziBuddy
Bonzi Software faced some separate legal problems from 1999 to 2004, when BonziBuddy was finally discontinued. When the company settled in 2003, Bonzi agreed to stop using fake “X” buttons that can’t actually close the ad and was forced to clearly label their popups as ads. They also pay over $170,000 in legal fees.
Bonzi Software pay a $75,000 fine to the FTC for breaking the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Whenever BonziBuddy rolls out, it allows users to register online. On its registration form, BonziBuddy asked for the address, names, and ages of its users. Since a cartoon ape was asking children, kids would certainly install the app and, not knowing any better, fill out the registration form. This enables Bonzi to collect confidential information about children without parental approval.
On top of the legal issues, BonziBuddy grew more irritating in an attempt to monetize their userbase. In the next years of its existence, BonziBuddy would download toolbars in Internet Explorer. Simply reset your browser’s home page to Bonzi.com, and also record statistics about your internet usage. However, Bonzi meant to employ dirty malware tactics from the begining or if they just got desperate from financial issues, the result was quite the same.
BonziBuddy might have been a terrible app but it had its own charm. His ridiculous jokes, his funny voice, and his top animations were irksome when you couldn’t get rid of them. But they at least gave him some personality.
If you want to play with your old monkey friend again, fans of BonziBuddy have created mirrors of the real Bonzi site, also a download links to get Bonzi on your PC. However, the servers that ran ads and record data have long since been shut off, BonziBuddy can’t be much of a threat anymore.
That’s all about it. What are your thoughts about BonziBuddy? Do you have anything to share with us? Share your view with us. Also, for further queries and questions let us know in the comment section below!
Till then! Stay Happy 😁