A good idea is just a bad idea that’s been waiting a while.

I’ve been a subscriber to WIRED for years — I know I started in the late 90s, at least. I’ve always been a big fan of the magazine. As a subscriber back in 1999 or thereabouts, I got a little package in the mail one day. It contained one of these:

This is a gizmo that they called a “CueCat”. It wasn’t invented by WIRED, but they distributed them. You plugged it into your computer, and the CueCat (get it? A ‘cat’ to go with your ‘mouse’?) is then a barcode scanner. The idea was that you’d be reading a magazine or some other publication, come across a special barcode, scan it with your CueCat, and then your computer would launch a special website only activated by that barcode.

It was a pretty goofy idea, really — who was reading magazines and scanning barcodes? The notion never got off the ground, and the CueCat has been synonymous with “idiotic tech idea” ever since.

But now…the newest thing is using one’s smartphone to scan a barcode-looking emblem on a product or advertisement, in order to launch the smartphone’s browser and bring up a special website accessible only in this manner.

So the CueCat was a good idea that was waiting for wireless smartphones. Every idea comes back, sooner or later!

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One Response to A good idea is just a bad idea that’s been waiting a while.

  1. Call me Paul says:

    I work at a "Store" as well. (On my blog I call it the Kwik-E-Mart). We have a smart-phone app. that allows customers to scan the product's UPC code and their phone will automatically call up our web page description and price for that item.
    It's neat to live in the future.

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