If you walk into some offices at Microsoft, you'll find these strange 2“ black cubes on some people's desks. These cubes show up when you complete a patent application and it is filed. It's a nice reward to a process that takes a fair bit of work on your time, and there is also a monetary award.
Sometime later (and by later, I mean *years* later), the patent application may be granted, and if it does, you get a nice little plaque a summary of your patent on it. It also has a diagram that details how a computer system works, which is boilerplate that goes into all of our patents (and those of other computer companies, I suspect). So, there's a processing unit with a system bus, a hard disk drive interface, etc. It's not enough to just say “this patent is related to a computer“, you apparently have to describe a computer.
So, I've been awarded patent # 6,xxx,xxx for “Method and Apparatus xxxx xxxx x x xx xxxx x xxxxx“.
I thought that I'd give you the real number, but I've decided not to because you probably don't want to read patents, as one of the idiosyncracies of patent law is that damages are trebled if you knowingly violate a patent, so it's better to be ignorant.
And no, I'm not going to talk about the advisability of software patents in general. I do have an opinion on that, but I'd rather not debate that here.