Long time ago, Radio Shack was providing free barcode scanners called CueCats. They looked like cats (to attack your mouse?). In any case the idea was that you could scan a special barcode from a magazine article and it would take you right to the proper website. But the company that provided the barcode readers was harvesting the data for consumer monitoring purposes. Pretty soon, the whole thing crashed and the CueCat never caught on. But a million barcode readers still are in the wild.The company that make the barcode reader (Digital Convergence) put a simple encryption on the data output of the device. And hacker in short order figured out how to decrypt the data with software, but also learned how to make a tiny modification to the CueCat to print the barcode in plain text. This has become know as neutering or de-clawing your cat.
With simple online instructions I was able to perform the surgery on one of two CueCats I had saved from the 1980s! I found them when rummaging in the attic for parts to fix my lightning detector. Not sure what use this thing will have, but it was fun to scan a few items and see the right numbers pop up.
One inconvenient aspect of the CueCat is that it works on PS-2 type Keyboard connectors. It was designed to plug itself inline with your normal keyboard. If you scanned something, it would look to your software like you had just typed the number in. But how many computers have PS-2 connecters these days? I wonder if a USB to PS-2 adapter will work on this thing?
Edit: Just learned that their is a difference between a USB to PS2 adapter and converter. An adapter requires the keyboard or mouse to be able to decode both protocols. The CueCat was designed before the days of USB. Therefore it would need a converter that would actively convert the USB protocol to and from PS2. Adpaters are a few bucks. Converters are $15 or more. And just to keep life interesting users report that even converters may not work properly.
So what product did I just scan? 079784292024