Jan 11, 2016
Bob Brass and Peter D’Amato, Cauzin Softstrip
If you read certain computer magazines from the early days of microcomputers — magazines like Byte, Family Computing, II Computing and InCider — you might see long, black-and-white strips of bar codes. Those are computer programs encoded for use with the Cauzin Softstrip reader.
Introduced in 1985, the Cauzin Softstrip was a hardware peripheral that attached to your Apple //, Macintosh, or IBM computer (there was no Atari version.) It optically read the printed two-dimensional bar codes, which were published in those magazines and in books - allowing you to quickly input data - for instance, inputting programs without having to laboriously type them in.
This interview is with two of the people at that company: Bob Brass was co-founder of Cauzin (along with Dr. Jack Goldman, who has passed away), and Peter D’Amato, who was Manager of OEM and VAR Support at Cauzin from 1984 through 1988.
This interview took place on October 5, 2015.
“I remember being stumped. How are we going to get something with gears to move 1/100 of a degree? It just won’t happen because the slop in a gear would exceed that. ... I said, ‘That’s it. We’re going to have a spiral gear, and we’ll have the equivalent of a phonograph arm and it will track to a hundredth of a degree without a problem.’”
Softstrip information: https://web.archive.org/web/20180322081142/http://softstrip.info/
Scans and documentation at Apple2Scans.net http://www.apple2scans.net/2015/12/20/cauzin-softstrip-reader-manuals-software-etc/
1985 NY Times article about Cauzin: http://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/15/science/personal-computers-supermarket-bar-codes-are-applied-to-software.html
Reverse Engineering The Cauzin Softstrip (thesis published October 2018, two years after this interview)