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May 18, 2005

Ship-It Award, Version 3

KC Lemson was kind enough to send me a picture of her version 3 Ship-It Award:

Although someone said in a comment (which I think I managed to delete by accident $#@$%#) that there was a version 4a, that was like version 4, but taller. I don't recall seeing that, but who knows, it sounds like it was only issued for a short time and I wasn't at Microsoft then.

I should mention that I do like the Ship-It Award. Joel Spolsky complains about them, but really he is just using the Ship-It award as the launching point to complain about reviews and incentive bonuses. The Ship-It Award and the little plaques were not meant to be a reward by themselves. The idea was to show some tangible recognition of the fact that shipping software was what it was all about, and if you had worked there for 5 years and had no Ship-It Awards, what had you been working on (besides Longhorn, ha ha)? Somehow the program came under ridicule at first, people complained about the Lucite slabs and the silliness of it, but they were missing the point. There were some stumbles as they decided what to do with localizers and admins and web shipping and all that, but for a developer like me, it did make sense.

According to here, Lucite is a trademark for a particular cast acrylic resin. Thus the awards should probably be described as acrylic, not Lucite. Here's something claiming that acrylic can be recycled (when the Ship-It Awards first came out, a nonplussed developer actually sent email asking if anyone wanted to recycle their plaques, they would look into it).

Posted by AdamBa at May 18, 2005 10:39 PM

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As for a little history of the program it started the summer of 1993. In the announcement mail that was sent out to the company at the time a VP that shall remained nameless actually had a bad typo in his mail calling it the "shit-it" award. There was also some controversy about the revealment of the program. They had this "Why is Bill smiling?" set of posters up and then they came around to each office and put a button on the door that had a little yellow/orange grainy photo of Bill Gates's face where he was smiling. Apearently Bill or someone else did not like this as security came around and collected them off of people's doors. The reason Bill was smiling was because Microsoft had shipped some many great products. When they revealed the program he was given one for working on BASIC for the ALTAIR
For the longest time between buildings 16 & 17 they were recording all of the products that shipped that year as part of this program but they game up on it maybe six or eight years ago.
When the ship-its first came out there was a concept of a gold or silver version and depending on your participation level it determined which color you got (with gold being the higher level). What was interesting was how quickly some people ended up with two or three bricks because in the begining you got them every time your technology shipped. If you worked on OLE at the time you got one for it shipping with Windows and then also for each SKU of Office that it shipped with. The same thing was true for shared components. Say you worked on MS Graph which was part of Office. You got one for MS Graph and also one for Access, Powerpoint, and Word because Graph shipped in each of those boxes. After awhile they stopped doing this and you could only get a ship-it every six or nine months and you had to have worked on the project for a large percentage of time and also in the window of three months before it shipped.

Posted by: Aaron at May 18, 2005 11:46 PM

Hey Adam, that was my comment about the 4a version you accidently deleted :). Interesting story from Aaron, I always wondered about the story behind the bricks near Office. I was going to mention the VP who invented the ship-it but didn't wanted to mention their name in case it was the same person who sent out the email (I doubt that though). What are the weirdest/rarest ship-its you've seen? I've seen one that said "Windows 98 decaf" or something which was actually Windows 98 sans the JVM or something?

Posted by: anonymous at May 19, 2005 08:53 PM

Yeah, why drag Mike Murray's name into this. (Here's some trivia: do you know that Mike Murray used to be head of marketing at Apple and in his office he had the hammer used in the "1984" Macintosh commercial?)

I have a Softimage Digital Studio (actually it says "Microsoft Softimage | DS") Ship-It plaque. That must be somewhat unusual since it's a non-Microsoft-branded product (I don't know why the plaque said "Microsoft" on it).

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at May 19, 2005 10:51 PM

Interesting about the hammer. Yup, it was Mr Shrimp & Weenies himself.

Posted by: anonymous at May 19, 2005 11:54 PM