November 8, 2001 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Joybubbles, aka Joe Engressia, is quite possibly the man who arguably first discovered blueboxing, the art of stuffing a 2600 Hz tone into a phone in order to make a free phone call, by blowing a Cap'n Crunch whistle.

I recently (re)discovered all this information after having a conversation about a guy in the phonebook who was listed as Joybubbles. I first heard about Joybubbles a number of years ago when I was involved in a local Ham Radio club, and we had to change the roster because the guy changed his name. He even answers his phone "Joybubbles". Thank you Google!
posted by manero (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
back to the old school. reminds me of my bbs/blackhat days. ahh, memories.
posted by phalkin at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2001

that was reaally interesting.
posted by o2b at 1:25 PM on November 8, 2001

Getting free calls w/ a 2600hz tone is called red boxing.
A blue box emitted tones to control the switching system.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:49 PM on November 8, 2001

Oh, and a fellow named John Draper (aka captain crunch) was the first to use a whistle to generate the tone. (or so legend has it.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2001

whoops, red boxing, my bad =] brain fart.
posted by manero at 1:56 PM on November 8, 2001

ah.. jolly roger taught me well.. i actually know what you guys are talking about.

"quite possibly the man who arguably"

and allegedly, perhaps also probably....
posted by lotsofno at 2:01 PM on November 8, 2001

The Esquire story that you linked is pretty much what brought the whole mess to an end. After that, the phone company, FBI, and everyone was on to the scam. People were pretty pissed about it. Joybubbles was one of several "perfect pitch" deaf people that are credited with discovering the 2600 tone. Of course, John Draper who's been mentioned here before, is largely credited with exploiting the tones and building the first blue box. History here in his own words.

Though the telephone switches became largely immune to this sort of business by the late 80's. However, the military phone systems, especially in Asia and Europe, were not and still aren't. This was a fact I took great joy in, back in the day. Anyway, news spread of this via a "yippie" publication called the "Technical Assistance Party" or TAP. TAP was a group dedicated to explioting things in the "system" and spread the information. These "hacks" represent some of the first organized action groups, or hackers groups documented. (if anyone has any more information about TAP, let me know).
posted by Dean_Paxton at 2:04 PM on November 8, 2001

deaf? gosh, I meant blind... sorry (whatanidiot)
posted by Dean_Paxton at 2:06 PM on November 8, 2001

[7/99]: Elderly mall rats, Hillary Clinton, phone phreaking, and an interview with John 'Captain Crunch' Draper about the early history of personal computers and the TNT movie Pirates of Silicon Valley. In realaudio or windows media format
- from a few years ago but it's the most amazing (computer-related) interview.
posted by holloway at 3:38 PM on November 8, 2001

deaf, blind, red, blue, its all the same =]
posted by manero at 3:46 PM on November 8, 2001

SOS; from what I know, blue boxing *does* use the 2600 -- red boxing apparently uses a combined 1700 and 2200 Hertz; either way, the cap'n crunch whistle (which was 2600 hz) in no way could be used to produce the short bursts that are necessary to emulate the quarter tones.

Both blue boxing and red boxing can get you free phone calls -- what red boxing does is simulate the insertion of money into a pay phone, whereas blue boxing let(s) you manipulate the phone networks, allowing you to say, redirect a call from a toll free number to overseas, etc.

i'm not particularly familar with blue boxes, as i was too young during that golden age of phreaking to have one. i did, however, have a red box. (well, a rat shack box). there was something incredibly cool about getting free phone calls, even though i didn't really have any long distance numbers to call.

i also knew a couple ringbacks, and anis, so i was the L33T PH00L of our little crew. ah yes.
posted by fishfucker at 5:00 PM on November 8, 2001

For more information about Red Boxing (which uses a 1700+2200Hz tone) check out the Phone Losers Of America page on the topic.
posted by dincognito at 5:19 PM on November 8, 2001

The interview starts at about 24:00 minutes in on the real file holloway linked above.
posted by sylloge at 7:13 PM on November 8, 2001

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