You can now buy CueCats on Amazon Prime

Exactly. That was the whole point: silly company giving away hardware for free which could be hacked to actually do something. A Maker’s dream.

Paying for a CueCat offensive! It’s like using a laser to make your jeans look worn!


Sounds like it was merely Slightly Ahead Of Its Time, considering how ubiquitous QR codes are now. In fact, if CueCat landed with such a dismal thud, you might have expected advertisers to be much more wary about adopting QR codes at all.

(Last time I checked, I still couldn’t find any genuinely free software capable of reading QR codes via webcam on a desktop PC.)

The equipment you gave as an example was never cheap. Crappy on occasion, sure, but not cheap.

That was confusing. On this side of the pond, at least in the UK Parade means something quite different:

I was having a hard time figuring out what the CueCat could possibly be for in the context of the UK parade.


Maybe so, but it did create a great opportunity to describe hacking one as “declawing and neutering your CueCat”

Which we did, with great success. Because no one wants to enter some 2,000 book barcodes by hand.


The :CueCat people were doing that too!

They had a thing that would MITM the sound card ports, just like they MITMed the PS/2 port. The idea was to get your audio card listening to ambient sounds to identify sub-audible tones in TV ads, so that you could watch matching ads on your PC while the television was on.

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The :Cue Cat wouldn’t work with the Mac pictured due to the lack of a PS/2 port and I’m willing to bet no Mac software.

Seems like one more reason to prefer a Mac.

I made a meowing cuecat device a few years ago to scan all my books for library thing.


IIRC, there were joysticks and specialty controllers (like for driving or flight sims) that used serial interfaces.


Quite true. Before the LibraryThing app was released for iOS and recently for Android, the CueCat was a convenient way to scan ISBN-13 barcodes to enter books in one’s catalog on LT.

For those snarking about the PS/2 connection, CueCats are also readily available with USB. You can also buy both types on eBay both with the original encoding circuitry intact and “modified” or “declawed” ones which let them act as a keyboard device for data entry.

Now there are sub-$20 barcode readers on Amazon and apps that use the camera, but 10 years ago all that was available was prohibitively expensive so a modified CurCat was a good barcode solution.


Room enough for a Beowulf cluster of Pi Zeroes!


I got a free one thanks to my WIRED subscription. Still have it, unused, in the original box.

My brother came up with a similar idea – a unit for scanning and storing bar codes containing URLS, for later upload – but didn’t have the biz experience to even get started on implementation. CueCat must have been working on it for years before he got the idea, but he felt like he’d been scooped.

For suitable meta points, be sure to use your Amazon Echo or Dash button to buy a CueCat.

While crude; and substantially in advance of the technology required to make them work well enough to match their creators’ intentions; the CueCat is arguably chillingly prescient as an early embodiment of a gadget you (don’t, at least if the company’s lawyers have anything to say about it, and they sure tried) own entirely for the purpose of being advertised at harder.

(The feature that listened for audio signals from nearby TV advertisements was particularly half baked; but notably ahead of its time.)

Or jus get a USB cuecat. Or a ps2 to usb adapter, since the cuecat is just a keyboard HID (wanted to put HID device, but that is redundant)

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Have several, in service bar code readers. Fit nicely in the laptop bag. I do use the better ‘gun’ style as my main bar code reader now. Guess the phone serves this duty for most now though.

All correct. Just built a brand new rig with an ASUS Prime motherboard and it indeed has a PS2 port. Most gaming motherboards have one, and yes keyboards are the main reason. Not much demand for mechanical ps/2 mice.

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[Blessed]WOT, no ADB version? How preposterous![/Blessed]

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There was a USB version of the CueCat, although there wasn’t any first-party software written for the Mac that supported it. However, it worked GREAT with Delicious Library later on.

(Still wouldn’t help with the 6400/6500 pictured without expansions, though.)

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