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United States Patent [w]
Taylor et al.
US005974468A [ii] Patent Number:  Date of Patent:
 CONTROLLING THE FLOW OF
ELECTRONIC INFORMATION THROUGH A
 Inventors: Billy P. Taylor, Houston; Mary P.
Czerwinski, The Woodlands; Willie
Lawson Schoggins, III, Spring; Young
Howard Lee, Houston, all of Tex.
 Assignee: Compaq Computer Corporation,
 Appl. No.: 08/450,730  Filed: May 25, 1995
Related U.S. Application Data
 Continuation of application No. 08/303,627, Sep. 9, 1994.
 Int. CI. G06F 13/00
 U.S. CI 709/302; 379/902
 Field of Search 395/650, 700,
395/680, 682, 683, 684, 685; 709/300, 302, 303, 304, 305; 379/902, 900, 905
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
5,062,040 10/1991 Bishop et al 395/684
5,283,856 2/1994 Gross et al 395/51
5,327,558 7/1994 Burke et al 395/650
5,423,000 6/1995 Kimura et al 395/200
5,455,854 10/1995 Dilts et al 379/201
5,596,694 1/1997 Capps 395/152
5,848,271 12/1998 Caruso et al 395/680
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A method for controlling flow, through a computer hardware resource, of information to and from computer applications. When a flow of information is initiated from one of the applications, a determination is made whether the resource is being accessed by another one of the applications and, if so, the flow of information from the first application is delayed. If not, then the flow of information is enabled. When a flow of information is initiated toward the applications, a determination is made to which one of the applications the information is flowing, and the flow is directed to that one application. A graphical interface associates, in the mind of a user, a computer hardware resource with a corresponding real office device, the computer resource enabling the computer to function like the consumer device. The graphical interface includes a surrealistic image having physical features which represent functional components of the resource, the physical features of the image resembling corresponding features of the office device; and an animation routine which causes the image to change when the user selects one of the features of the image, thereby invoking the change occurring in a manner which resembles changes to the office device when the corresponding feature of the office device is invoked.
8 Claims, 52 Drawing Sheets
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