Ed Fries is retiring from Microsoft, and last night we held a little shindig to send him off

Ed Fries is retiring from Microsoft, and last night we held a little shindig to send him off. Ed’s accomplishments as head of the games business unit are pretty well known and impressive.  During his eight-year tenure, he shipped over 120 new titles, of which 18 sold over a million copies.  Were he in the music business, that would be 18 platinum CDs in 8 years.  Ed was also responsible for anything having to do with Xbox.

Before Ed went off to run the games group, he was development manager for Word.  Before that, he was a lead developer in Excel.  He was also one of the co-founders of Tom and Ed’s Bogus Software, purveyors of the original “Fish!” screen saver.  Their motto was, “A fish on every race track.”

Ed invented DDE, and, as proof of concept, he wrote a program that would send DDE messages to the Fish screen saver.  The DDE messages would tell the screen saver to create submarines that would shoot down the fish.

Over all these things, however, I’ll always associate Ed with the infamous “Swing around the Wing.”  Ed used to set up miniature golf courses once a week in building 8.  To play, you’d send Ed an e-mail, and he’d group you up and send you a tee time.

Of all the various stories I could tell about this, none is quite capable of conveying the relaxed nature of the “Swing around the Wing” than the story of the invention of the Osgood scale for measuring the depth of a ding in the wall.

Osgood was an intern, who stepped up for his first shot, took a fairly hefty back swing, and toed the ball severely, at which point the ball rocketed off at a 90 degree angle from the direction of his swing and embedded itself in the wall next to him to a depth of nearly half the golf ball.  As Ed says, it was almost perfection.

Since then, a ding in the wall was always measured in Osgoods, well, fractions of an Osgood. I don’t know of anyone who left a ding deeper than even half an Osgood.  The most common depth was 1/8th of an Osgood.

Yeah, I’ll miss you, Ed.  And don’t forget the fish.