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SoftStrip System Reader

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In the late 70s, barcodes were just becoming widely available, and someone thought it would be a great idea to be able to distribute programs via barcodes.

In those days, every computer magazine devoted numerous pages to laborious listings of program code. Users would have to type in the code, line by line, and then correct their inevitable typing mistakes (if not the magazine's typesetting mistakes!) before their program would run.

Enter the SoftStrip System. Magazines printed the program listing in long strips of barcode along the outer edge of each page. Readers with a SoftStrip System Reader peripheral could scan the barcode strips, and pow! there was the program, transmitted to their computer via a serial port. No more typing!

Unfortunately, the SoftStrip people were never able to convince enough magazines to publish using their system. This, combined with wide use of the new, cheaper modems and on-line systems like CompuServe and The Source, led to SoftStrip's demise.

Today, the only way to read those old program listings is with a SoftStrip reader like this one, shown in its original box.

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Last modified: April 17, 2003