Ghosts of bubbles past

Ghosts of bubbles past

: Vin Crosbie finds the punchline to the bubble: A liquidator is selling 3 million CueCats at 30 cents each.

The one moment in my internet career I should probably be proudest of is convincing my bosses not to do CueCat. That was the single creepiest meeting I attended during the bubble.

  • Hey, who wouldn’t want to sit with their magazine beside the computer, rifle through the magazine to find bar codes, use a plastic device to manually scan a bar code, then read a web site relating to an ad?
    Does anyone have $150,000 I can borrow?

  • Andy Freeman

    I’ll bet that the CueCat functionality shows up on a cell phones. (Given a close-focus lens, bar code recog is trivial for a camera phone.)

  • CharlesWT

    For another bad example, head back to the magazine industry. Two European companies (one technology company and one publisher) are trying to do their best to link mobile phones to magazines, but again the effort seems misguided. If anything, it seems a little too much like the CueCat in that it seems to ignore the way people actually view information. The service itself involves quite a few steps, many of which probably don’t make much sense.
    The next big trend in mobile applications may be connecting the analog and digital worlds — but not all of the experiments make that much sense. (via CueCat, Version Two?)

  • I’ve still got the original CueCat – still in the box it arrived in many years ago. It was sent free, out of the blue, when it first came out.
    I wonder if they’ve changed or evolved in any way during the interim years, or are the CueCats selling on ebay ALL the original invention?
    Guess it is not going to be worth much anytime soon, lol

  • Robert

    Jeff, I’d really like to hear more about that meeting. Did you blog it anywhere?

  • Dan

    Yes, please describe that meeting. I’d love to hear the story…

  • Max Kalehoff

    HYSTERICAL and DEJA VU all at the same time! Much earlier in my career, when I was working at a “big important advertising/pr company,” I was asssigned to work on the launch of Digital Convergence. It was a joke from day one, and the seriousness of the big execs and media companies behind it was an even bigger joke. So I escaped by taking another job in 1999 to lead marketing for a ratings company called Media Metrix, where I got to study the Internet traffic stats of a lot of other bigger corporate jokes (and some successes, to be fair).

  • John Steven

    I still have my original free cuecat that got shipped to me via Fortune magazine… I ended up using it to scan ISBN codes of my books via Readerware (automatic online lookup) to create a catalog of my personal library.

  • Wow John…never thought of doing that! I have many books I’d like to sell, and that would be a huge time savings. Can you explain more about Readerware and it’s part in what you did? (Never heard of it.) I’ve never used the CueCat either. Thanks for your input!

  • Doug C

    Google “cuecat” and chances are one of the first few results will be on how to hack it to use as a normal barcode scanner. It used to be a hardware hack, but now there’s a software hack available as well. I used it to scan my cd’s and dvd’s – mere plugins for available cataloging software.
    Ah, the halcyon days of 99.

  • Holy cripes, Jeff… I was in a few bubble era CueCat meetings myself, and can affirm that my creep detector was pegged at 10 the entire time.

  • I just threw away a CueCat a couple of weeks ago while cleaning out a closet. I was tempted to save it for nostalgia, but I knew I had no real use for it. I never expected to see anyone mention them again.

  • Thanks for the info Doug :-)

  • When I just moved, I held onto my cuecat. It is small and light and a perfect example of a really stupid idea.
    Cuecats never had a chance to evolve. They were stillborn.