Marconi wasn't even using WEP
December 28, 2011 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Edwardian Era Grey Hatting. How a magician and part time inventor used griefing to expose security flaws in Marconi's radio transmission system, in 1903.

Patent issues were also at work, something not uncommon for Marconi.
posted by kmz (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was the patent system ever not total bullshit?
posted by mullingitover at 1:38 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for the grey hatting, they were asking for it. They could've at least used a one-time pad. Wouldn't protect them from a denial-of-service attach but at least they could get a secret message through.
posted by mullingitover at 1:42 PM on December 28, 2011


I assume this has already appeared somewhere in one of Thomas Pynchon's novels. Anyone know which?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:47 PM on December 28, 2011


I assume this has already appeared somewhere in one of Thomas Pynchon's novels. Anyone know which?
Funny coincidence, actually. I don't recall this incident referenced anywhere in Pynchon, but the name of the magician sounded very familiar. So I looked it up, and a different (and apparently unrelated) Nevil Maskelyne, an Astronomer Royal, was indeed a character in Mason & Dixon.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:54 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


My grandfather was something of a tinkerer when he was a boy, and built his own crystal radio. According to him, the commercial radio sets of that era (mid 20s?) were fairly easy to jam, and he could do it while sitting on the other side of the wall where the family radio stood.

As a prank on his little sister, he started jamming the radio when her favorite shows were on. I think he even got into playing around with the signal when he heard her approaching the radio in the next room! I don't remember if he actually broadcast anything, or just cancelled out her shows. Apparently he did this for quite a while before somebody figured it out and he got in trouble.

When he grew up, grandpa became a Presbyterian minister! But he did always have a pretty strong nerd streak, loved astronomy & science fiction.
posted by epersonae at 2:08 PM on December 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


"So I looked it up, and a different (and apparently unrelated) Nevil Maskelyne, an Astronomer Royal, was indeed a character in Mason & Dixon."

The Maskelyne family crops up quite regularly in Victoriana-styled literature (dare I say Steampunk? ;-) and other styles that cover the burgeoning Age of Reason.

John Nevil Maskelyne was an accomplished stage performer who developed many of what we think of as the standards of stage magic, and was a noted sceptic and debunker of things like Spiritualism. His son, Nevil, was also a noted sceptic (which lead to the events in the link), and himself authored several books on the development and practice of magic. John's grandson, Jasper, is probably most famous for working on several large scale illusions used as counterintelligence during WWII - though his actual role has been disputed.

You could probably do quite an interesting fpp on the whole family…
posted by Pinback at 3:12 PM on December 28, 2011


"Someone else is transmitting!"
"What the dickens are they typing?"
"It's a repeating sequence of seven letters:
L, O, L, P, W, N, D."
posted by benzenedream at 4:01 PM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Until I googled the phrase Grey Hatting, I figured it was an Edwardian gentleman's name -- he owns a steel mill, several newspapers of disreputable truthfulness, and is the originator of two secret societies.
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:47 PM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


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