The 1991 Girl Scout Cookie Active Email

In 2017, my granddaughters began selling me Girl Scout cookies, and my daughter raved about the cool new technology for selling it on the web. It is indeed cool, but it motivated me to document my own ancient Girl Scout cookie technology research.

In 1991, I had been doing research on "active email" -- essentially, email that contained a program that ran automatically when you read the message. (Obviously a big part of the research involved making it secure, which it was.)

I had successfully altered the computing environment so that nearly anyone at our site could automatically experience an active email message. The first practical use of this system was for selling Girl Scout cookies. (My daughters were 6, 7, and 9, all Girl Scouts, and I was a troop leader.)

I sent the message to everyone at Bellcore's Morristown research site. When anyone read the message, a new window popped up on their screen:

The best part was what happened when you clicked on "Click here to see and hear my Girl Scout daughters." Three windows would pop up, with a picture of each of my daughters. Each had an attached audio that you could click on to hear. It looked something -- but not exactly -- like this:




(If you can't hear the audio, try reloading or try another browser. If you know why my audio html is sometimes flakey, please tell me!)

When you clicked on "Show Picture" for one of the cookies, another window popped up with one of these:

My kids sold a nice amount of cookies that year!