Thursday, February 21, 2013

#BOOKS: "'Exploding the Phone' Exalts Hackers"

In this history of phone hacking--called phreaking--engineer Phil Lapsley tells how Steve Jobs (hacker handle: Oaf Tobar) and Steve Wozniak (hacker handle: Berkely Blue) started out by ripping off AT&T for free long-distance before starting Apple. "Exploding the Phone" describes the 1960-70s culture of hacking phones in numerous ways. One way I personally used, was to put in a dime then whack the 'return coin' button on pay-phones with handset which returned the coin and gave you a dial-tone for free local calls. More devious hackers--like Wozniak who writes the book's forward--outwitted the phone system with a 'Blue Box' which emitted tones that were reserved for AT&T equipment to make free long-distance calls.

Exploding the Phone traces the birth of long-distance communication and the telephone, the rise of AT&T’s monopoly, the creation of the sophisticated machines that made it all work, and the discovery of Ma Bell’s Achilles’ heel.

Phil Lapsley described his book as: weaving together the clandestine underground of “phone phreaks” who turned the network into their electronic playground, the mobsters who exploited its flaws to avoid the feds, the explosion of telephone hacking in the counterculture, and the war between the phreaks, the phone company, and the FBI.
Further Reading