A Short History of Phreaking courtesy of Exodus
Well now we know a little vocabulary, and now its into history, Phreak
history. Back at MIT in 1964 arrived a student by the name of Stewart Nelson,
who was extremely interested in the telephone. Before entering MIT, he had
built autodialers, cheese boxes, and many more gadgets. But when he came to
MIT he became even more interested in "fone-hacking" as they called it. After
a little while he naturally started using the PDP-1, the schools computer at
that time, and from there he decided that it would be interesting to see
whether the computer could generate the frequencies required for blue boxing.
The hackers at MIT were not interested in ripping off Ma Bell, but just
exploring the telephone network. Stew (as he was called) wrote a program to
generate all the tones and set off into the vast network.
Now there were more people phreaking than the ones at MIT. Most people have
heard of Captain Crunch (No not the cereal), he also discovered how to take
rides through the fone system, with the aid of a small whistle found in a
cereal box (can we guess which one?). By blowing this whistle, he generated
the magical 2600hz and into the mouthpiece it sailed, giving him complete
control over the system. I have heard rumors that at one time he made about
1/4 of the calls coming out of San Francisco. He got famous fast. He made the
cover of people magazine and was interviewed several times (as you'll soon
see). Well he finally got caught after a long adventurous career. After he
was caught he was put in jail and was beaten up quite badly because he would
not teach other inmates how to box calls. After getting out, he joined Apple
computer and is still out there somewhere.
Then there was Joe the Whistler, blind form the day he was born. He could
whistle a perfect 2600hz tone. It was rumored phreaks used to call him to tune
Well that was up to about 1970, then from 1970 to 1979, phreaking was mainly
done by college students, businessmen and anyone who knew enough about
electronics and the fone company to make a 555 Ic to generate those magic
tones. Businessmen and a few college students mainly just blue box to get free
calls. The others were still there, exploring 800#'s and the new ESS systems.
ESS posed a big problem for phreaks then and even a bigger one now. ESS was
not widespread, but where it was, blue boxing was next to impossible except for
the most experienced phreak. Today ESS is installed in almost all major cities
and blue boxing is getting harder and harder.
1978 marked a change in phreaking, the Apple ][, now a computer that was
affordable, could be programmed, and could save all that precious work on a
cassette. Then just a short while later came the Apple Cat modem. With this
modem, generating all blue box tones was easy as writing a program to count
form one to ten (a little exaggerated). Pretty soon programs that could
imitate an operator just as good as the real thing were hitting the community,
TSPS and Cat's Meow, are the standard now and are the best.
1982-1986: LD services were starting to appear in mass numbers. People now
had programs to hack LD services, telephone exchanges, and even passwords. By
now many phreaks were getting extremely good and BBS's started to spring up
everywhere, each having many documentations on phreaking for the novice. Then
it happened, the movie War Games was released and mass numbers of sixth grade
to all ages flocked to see it. The problem wasn't that the movie was bad, it
was that now EVERYONE wanted to be a hacker/phreak. Novices came out in such
mass numbers, that bulletin boards started to be busy 24 hours a day. To this
day, they still have not recovered. Other problems started to occur, novices
guessed easy passwords on large government computers and started to play
around... Well it wasn't long before they were caught, I think that many
people remember the 414-hackers. They were so stupid as to say "yes" when the
computer asked them whether they'd like to play games. Well at least it takes
the heat off the real phreaks/hacker/krackers.
(from the Official Phreaker's Manual)