What was Dr. Watson’s original name?

Raymond Chen

Raymond

What most people probably don’t know is that Dr. Watson’s name wasn’t originally “Dr. Watson”.

The original name of the diagnostic tool was “Sherlock”, whose icon was a lit drop-stem pipe. I remember chatting about the Doctor with its author, the late Don Corbitt, whose office was just a few doors down from mine. In 1991, he had to change the name from “Sherlock” to “Dr. Watson”; I had forgotten why, but Danny Glasser came to my rescue and reminded me that there was already a debugging tool called “Sherlock” that had come out a few years previously. The name had to change, and the Doctor stepped in to fill Sherlock’s shoes. The icon was originally a doctor’s bag, but it changed to the stethoscope-wielding general practitioner a few months later.

You should also check out Matt Pietrek’s reminiscences about Dr. Watson.

A note about Don Corbitt. He was a tall fellow with a deep booming voice, but he never used it. Instead, he spoke in a gentle, reassuring tone, backing it up with code that was always solid. I consider it an honor to have worked with him. Taking up the mantle of keeping the Doctor up to date with the latest forensic techniques, I updated it (i.e., rewrote it from scratch) for Windows 98. I was not a member of the Windows 98 team but wrote the program as a favor to them at great personal cost. (My then-boss didn’t approve of my little side project and made his displeasure known at my next performance review.)

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