On Slim Devices' online forum, Andrew Taylor (screen name: "audiofi") in northeastern Britain began a marathon discussion among the customers about the next product they wanted from the company. Although it would be new technology—a very high-end digital audio player—they wanted it to feel familiar and comfortable, with a retro 1970s hi-fi look and a case that could mount on the 19-inch-wide stereo racks in their living rooms:
- Audiofi (Northumberland, UK) "I thought I would have a go at drawing what I would see as my ideal squeezebox design so that it … looks more hifi-ish …"
- Paul Williamson (undisclosed) "I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but these drawings look about as far from hifi gear as any I've ever seen… . kind of techno-geeky looking, but far from hifi … anything that isn't a 19" wide form factor (to me) isn't hifi gear."
- Pfarrell (Northern Virginia) "Knobs, real hi-fi has knobs. Computers have buttons."
- Paul Williamson "I have yet to own an amp that has anything but a huge knob for volume … none of those silly little up/down buttons …"
- Dave D (Wake Forest, NC) "The volume knob is also an up/down control. You could use this for scrolling through hundreds of songs quickly… . Turn the knob slowly and the scrolls are much slower. Turn the knobs faster and they are much faster."
- PR Geno (undisclosed) "… Shouldn't it have a larger display?"
…And Then They Actually Built It
- Adrian Smith, a network architect for a telecom company in the UK, and Kevin Deane-Freeman, an R&D hardware engineer for a printer company in Vancouver, British Columbia, rewrote the software to expand from the single display of Slim Devices' earlier Squeezebox products to this larger dual display.
- Richard Titmus, a former employee at a UK telecom company, worked with Slim's CTO Dean Blackketter to engineer the knob for fast, intuitive scrolling through long menus of song titles.
- Jon Heal, a programmer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Virginia (and artist), redesigned the volume meter's graphic to make it more attractive.
- Caleb Crome, an American programmer, tuned the remote control for fast scrolling.
A version of this article appeared in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.