The 1999 Free Stuff Awards

by Matthew M. Lug, Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering

These awards originally appeared in Newspeak, Volume 27 Number 17. The complete article can be found at the Newspeak on-line archives at or Matthew M. Lug's personal archives at

Best Pen
Winners: Mercury Computer Systems and Hewlett Packard for their bubble blowing pens.
Runners Up: Compaq, for their gold-trimmed metal pens, and Lucent, for their sleek black pens.

Best Pencil
Winner: Aspect Telecommunications, for their plastic mechanical pencils.
Runner Up: Travelers Insurance, for their somewhat impractical wooden umbrella-shaped pencils.

Best Highlighter
Winner: Texas Instruments, for their erasable highlighters.
Runner Up: United Technologies, for their three highlighter set inside a triangular case, which had won in this category in the previous two years.

Best Sticky Note Pad
Winner: Cambridge Technology Partners, for their odd-shaped note pads.
Runners Up: Raytheon and Bell Atlantic for their large rectangular note pads.

Best Key Chain
Winner: Pervasive Software, for their key chains with red LEDs in them.
Runner Up: Gillette, for their key chains with little pewter razors.

Best Mousepad
Winner: APC, for their "Use it or lose it" cartoon mousepads.
Runner Up: Data General, for their uniquely shaped round mousepad with jagged edges.

Best Flying Object
Winners: Clarion and United Technologies, for their balsa planes, which won this award last year.
Runner Up: Raytheon, for their floppy frisbee things.

Best Toy
Winner: BASF, for their five different sports ball yo-yos.
Runner Up: APC, for their square slinkies.

Best Beverage Container
Winner: BASF, for their ceramic mugs.
Runners Up: General Motors, for their full bottles of water, and Boc Edwards for their belt pack bottle holders with empty water bottles.

Best Candy
Winner: Parametric Technology, for their Lindor chocolate truffles.
Runner Up: Connected Network Backup, for their nice assortment of chocolate.

Most Useful
Winner: Quantum, for their nice looking wooden post-it note holder that came in an equally nice looking box.
Runner Up: Torrington, for their ice scrapers.

Most Useless
Winner: Boc Edwards, for their binoculars that don't magnify much.
Runner Up: UPS, for their flimsy plastic clip things that don't clip very securely.

Most Original
Winner: APC, for their silly putty.
Runner Up: Sun Microsystems, for their magnets with assorted computer words.

Honorable Mentions
Cognex, for their playing cards with plastic cases.
Teradyne, for their "Global stress relief in a box," which appears to consist of a globe stress relief ball and slinky with a map of the earth printed on the outside, even though there was no stress relief ball inside the box.
Avici Systems, for their @ shaped letter openers.

Cutest Company Representative
Before you start getting offended, let me just say that these are my awards, and I can add any categories I want. This one does fit in with the theme of the awards because viewing and conversing with the company representatives is free.
Winner: InScribe Technologies. I had a couple of very nice conversations with Kathy of InScribe during my trips past the many tables.
Runner Up: Fidelity Investments. I didn't see a name tag, so I don't know who she was, and I didn't really talk to her, but she seemed nice.

Most Masculine Company Name
Like the above category, I just felt like including this one, even though it is even less related to free stuff.
Winner: Naval Undersea Warfare Center
Runner Up: Husky Injection Molding Systems

Newspeak Editors' Choice Award
Winner: Lucent, for their small pens with spiral antenna-like ends, which were hidden indide the spiral binding of their brochures.

Most Original Assortment
Winner: BASF, for their playing cards, sunglasses, sports ball yo-yos, plastic coffee mugs, and ceramic mugs. Their table was a very interesting place.

Most Self-Glorifying
Winner: Compaq, for their "The Legion of Q" comic book about underwater superheroes saving the world with the Alpha chip.

Most Over-Hyped
Winner: Microsoft. Their representatives were more agreeable, so I gave them a resume for one of their Koosh things. They seemed to think that their free item was the best in the world, but as usual it wasn't that great.

Created and maintained by Matthew M. Lug (Contact Matthew M. Lug)