Nerd History: Clarus the Dogcow


What's black and white, obsolete, and goes "moof?" Clarus the Dogcow, of course!

Created in 1983 by Apple designer Susan Kare, Clarus was part of the original Cairo font. A sort of hybrid Holstein cow/dog, the dogcow icon was used in Apple printer setup dialog boxes for years to show the orientation of the paper -- the user could instantly recognize when the dogcow was right-side-up. The dogcow made another appearance in Apple's "Disk Copy" application during copies -- the dogcow wagged its tail and flipped over while the copy took place.

Apple issued official Macintosh Technote #31 in April 1989, further explaining the mysterious animal's history and habits. In the mid 1990s, Apple included the dogcow in its real-world Icon Garden -- by that time, the terms "Dogcow" and "Moof!" had been trademarked by Apple.

When Apple released Mac OS X, the dogcow was missing from printer dialog boxes, replaced with a sort of "Men's Room" stick figure. Users mourned the loss (including starting a petition to Save our Dogcow with over 8,000 signatures), and one developer fought back with ClarusX, a utility to reinstate the dogcow in printer dialog boxes...and thus, a lone "moof!" was heard echoing across the web.

Read more at Wikipedia, or on the Clarus the Dogcow Museum.