A brilliant, geeky post by a friend about her ongoing exploration of what it means to be her.
A note from the design team
It is difficult to believe that Project Erica has been going on for over fifteen years! The idea of creating a workable system that would gain public acceptance has animated the lead developer for nearly 40 years. For most of that time, feasibility and resource allocation issues, together with limitations of imagination, kept Erica on the shelf. Now, the design team has pulled together all the release notes to date: what better way to look forward to the next fifteen years!
The idea for the product that would eventually become Erica started as a series of random experiments. It was clear from the earliest operation of the system that it was probably capable of running both in standard mode and (what would eventually be named) Erica mode. Still, while the core concept was always intriguing, the practical considerations and internal issues never indicated that a real prototype would ever develop. The period until 1998 is best considered the “Alpha” stage of Project Erica.
Tina 1.0 (April 1998)
The first integrated prototype that bears any resemblance to Erica as now in circulation was code-named Tina. The developers were able to demonstrate it in limited internal testing in early 1998. Tina’s general shape, as well as the “look and feel” of the external interface, was surprisingly similar to Erica 1.0, though the final product is a bit larger due to a wider feature set.
Tina’s development was made possible by the improved availability of online tools and additional lab space. The project was mainly a hobby of the lead developer. The project manager (code-name “WIFE”) was not advised of this work, mainly because the lead developer was concerned that the project would be summarily shut down (as being incompatible with Corporate priorities) and partly because all activity was performed off-the-clock.
Tina 1.1 (August 1998)
Minor incremental improvements to the external interface were delivered during 1998, resulting in Tina 1.1. This was the first product release that was photo-documented, though no user manual or external documentation was published or released. Eventually, of course, the product would be subjected to extensive photo-documentation, as well as a real-time user experience manual (discontinued in 2010) for the benefit of developers of similar products.
Tina 1.2 (January 1999)
Bug fix addressing an external error: insufficient skins for the core product. Easily remedied by recourse to readily available online tools (eBay.com, Macys.com and victoriassecret.com). By this point, the code name had been adopted as the de facto product name.
Tina 1.3-1.6 (various release dates from 1999-2000)
Minor improvements to the external interface. Also, with the resources of the internet community deployed, the number of product skins proliferated to the point where the developers had to worry about system storage resources! More ominously, during this period it became apparent that one major external issue and several internal issues precluded any chance of Tina achieving full potential. The internal factors have been amply documented elsewhere – particularly in the real-time user experience manual. (See http://ericacd.livejournal.com/) The external issue was persistent and serious: a “beta external application rendering defect”. This was a recurring concern to the development team that ultimately was called by its acronym: B.E.A.R.D. There was no question that even if the internal issues could be resolved, the B.E.A.R.D would preclude any external release or public consumption. Put simply, the market would have rejected the prototype utterly.
Tina 2.0 / Erica Beta 0.1 (September 2000)
An enormous breakthrough arose in September 2000. It was determined that a minor subroutine, applied during bootup every morning, temporarily eliminated B.E.A.R.D. When the developers finally saw the external interface freed from the B.E.A.R.D., they were astonished at how polished a product they had on their hands. (B.E.A.R.D. had profoundly obscured the incremental developments since version 1.2.) Following some extensive photo-documentation of this quantum leap in the external interface, the developers realized that some of the internal issues were also rendered less serious. The reason for this change is still unknown. The photo documentation of Tina 2.0 was released in white paper format to a limited subset of the internet community; response was highly favorable.
Due to poor interaction with Marketing, this prototype was interchangeably known as “Tina” and “Erica”. While the genesis of the name “Tina” is unknown (speculation abounds), “Erica” was easily derived from the name of a friend of the project manager. Limited focus group testing suggested that the name did not distract from the product, and the main impediment to universal acceptance of “Erica” was squarely with the developer group.