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Back in 2000, Radio Shack, Wired magazine, Forbes, Parade magazine, and others distributed the CueCat (:CueCat), a free bar code scanner from a company named Digital Convergence. Originally the CueCat was designed to be used only in conjunction with Digital Convergence's (lame-ass) web site. They were definitely not designed to be free bar code scanners. Guess what, people used them as such.
Some of us looked at the CueCat and knew it could be modded into a general purpose bar code scanner. A free bar code wand. A good place to start is Rich Goldstein's CatNip decoding software . It turns the CueCat into a free, general purpose bar code wand. Then when you scan a bar code, the scanner will return just the bar code data, not the big chunk of garbled stuff that Digital Convergence spits out.
Azalea Software's very own Jerry Whiting has gone on record with his (admittedly biased) perspective on the late great CueCat. He was quoted in this story.
While we find the CueCat an interesting toy (after all, we do sell barcode software), it has been relegated to a footnote in the history of barcodes and auto ID. While Azalea Software is a big fan and proponent of consumer auto ID, the CueCat was not the approach. Read our CueCat Postmortem to learn where we stand. Sidenote: eBay is full of jailbroken CueCats.
cexx.org has an extensive page all about the CueCat.