You can now buy CueCats on Amazon Prime

“a barcode reader that they hoped we would excitedly use to scan barcodes on ads so we could watch more ads”

Not only they hoped but they succeeded. Citing the linked article:

Over 1,000,000 Internet users pick up and installed a CueCat within the first 30 days of release making it one of the fastest growing and adopted technologies of all time

Basically, they told people they should pay to see more ads and one million people hand out their credit cards.

Actually, the problem was never the :CueCat. The problem was in the driver software that phoned home.

Of course the output of the cat was encoded, so it couldn’t be used directly as keyboard input; if you didn’t use their driver, you had to write or download your own. But still, they were fun little toys.

I have not used this, but it claims to be what you want:

When I needed something to decode bar codes from images I used a command line tool and Python. I see there are several libraries available for QR codes.

Linux seems to have this in standard repositories. I’m seeing zbar for the decoder.

That said, I have since gone from my Python tool to a note taking app on my phone that reads bar codes and QR codes and simply puts the text in a note.

You could just walk into a Radio Shack and ask for one. They were free. I have a couple; one is neutered via a soldered wire hack, but it’s really unreliable. I have to scrape the nose repeatedly across the bar code and that gets tiring. There are also hacked drivers that work with some physically unmodified CueCats

A Pi zero could probably be crammed in, with a bit of bodging. A Gumstix COM has a price from the old days of dev boards; but will definitely do the job as long as you like zillion-pin Hirose connectors.

Still have two. I guess now is not a good time to sell them?

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About that many were sent our free – with wired and parade magazine, for example. The word “installed” is probably a PR lie. The true total, after a couple of years of giveaways and sales, was likely closer to 140,000, as that’s how many users got doxxed when the servers were hacked.

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