player.jpgThe NYTs’ Pogue runs a story singing the high praises of the Squeezebox, a product from Slim Devices which lets you play your computer’s music anywhere in the house.

This is an intriguing company, based in Mountain View.

Beginning next week, the Squeezebox will do something no other hi-fi component can do: it will hook into Pandora… a sophisticated music-recommendation site. You name a band, singer or song that you like. Immediately, you hear a new “radio station” that plays…only musicologically similar songs. If you type “Billy Joel,” Pandora plays songs with “mild rhythmic syncopation, mixed minor and major tonality, a dynamic male vocalist and vocal harmonies.”

…But in the case of Slim Devices, you get a real taste of the creators’ personalities. The company bends over backward to make itself an open, transparent, right-minded outfit. The server software is open source, meaning free and open to the public to modify; as a result, you can download Squeezebox plug-ins that give it even more abilities…

We say intriguing, because the company is not a product of today’s hyped-filled moment. Two years ago, it was already focused on this area. The founder is Sean Adams, who now can’t be more than 26, and who started an Internet service provider in high school. Backers are Charles River Ventures’ Bill Tai and former CTO Vijay Vaidyanathan, who contributed $330,000 in an angel round.

Other cool tidbits here about the company:

Sean Adams aims to find out just how much traction a small design team can get leveraging the open-source movement. With the assistance of hobbyist code developers, the 25-year-old engineering-school dropout has secured a small foothold in the market for music-streaming systems. Now he’s courting investors to help take his 12-person startup, Slim Devices Inc., to the next level….A couple of employees working in a small back room handle final assembly and test of Squeezeboxes in batches of a few dozen units. Another room serves as a workbench, piled high with prototype circuit boards, where Adams sometimes tinkers well into the night.

And like some of the PC industry’s forebears, Adams never got an engineering degree but has had a lifelong passion for discovery and invention…”Without spending any money on marketing, we got the word out about the product,” he said. “The first 80 systems I soldered by hand, with parts I ordered on my credit card and pre-orders I logged myself.”

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