What was Dr. Watson’s original name?

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.)

Comments (11)
  1. Francisco Moraes says:

    Was the .WLG file produced by the Dr Watson ever documented? One thing that annoyed me was that newer versions of Windows didn’t have the ability to display the .WLG files from the Win95/98/Me versions and I had to open the file in my good old XEmacs and find the stack walk which was at least in readable ASCII.


  2. As I recall, I added a "save as -> text file" option precisely for people who wanted to grovel the data outside the viewer.

  3. CRathjen says:

    Well, you may have gotten chewed out on your review, but the rest of us surely thank you :)

    I mean, how many bugs (especially internal, but no small number of customer issues as well) are found and fixed from Watson reports? Many could be reported, diagnosed, and fixed without Watson, but it’d be a lot harder…

  4. Rob... says:

    I agree with CRathjen! The rest of us really appreciate your favour!

  5. John Elliott says:

    My first thought when I saw this: "But everyone knows Dr. Watson’s original name was Ormond Sacker!"

    Then realisation dawned.

  6. It was already taken, but that’s okay.

  7. 根据Raymond Chen的关于Dr. Watson的文章,Dr. Watson的第一作者名为Don Corbitt。以下是关于他的一篇报道。


    Downed Bellevue Pilot…

  8. zg says:

    Microsoft Access  名字的由来

  9. When developing the Watson error reporting features (see Dr. Watson: Please send in your error report

  10. I recently worked on a case which involved a crash ( it was the MMC ) which didn’t have a lot of info

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