The (not so) Secret History of Hacking
September 1, 2006 1:15 PM   Subscribe

The Secret History of Hacking [google video from a C4 documentary] is a fun romp through the exploits of Steve Wozniak, John Draper (a.k.a. Captain Crunch) and Kevin Mitnick. [via]
posted by MetaMonkey (13 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
ah, not these guys again.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:22 PM on September 1, 2006

Fraid so, rxrfrx. It may be a familiar tale to some, but it's a fun and fairly decent overview of the darker side of modern computing history for others, or so I hope.
posted by MetaMonkey at 1:36 PM on September 1, 2006

In October, when we thought we were almost finished, engineers who had been helping us had me demonstrate our software to their managers. A dozen people packed into my office. I didn't expect their support, but I felt obliged to make a good-faith effort to go through their official channels. I gave a twenty-minute demonstration, eliciting "oohs" and "ahhs." Afterward, they asked, "Who do you report to? What group are you in? Why haven't we seen this earlier?" I explained that I had been sneaking into the building and that the project didn't exist. They laughed, until they realized I was serious. Then they told me, "Don't repeat this story."
posted by poweredbybeard at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2006

Argh. Draper!? It's funny how he's still held up as some kind of iconic proto-hacker when by nearly all accounts from those in the phreak/hack arenas from his era mostly discount him out of hand as a gadabout.

And yet few of these would be so inclined to invoke the likes of Samson, Kotok, Gosper, Saunders or Greenblatt.

Bonus link: The Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, arguably the "Cradle of Civilization" of the ethos, ideology and technology of modern, hands-on and personal computing.
posted by loquacious at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2006

saw the Woz at HOPE 5. the documentary matches his statements, but with more details. thanks :)
posted by karson at 2:30 PM on September 1, 2006

Draper, Jobs, Wozniak, and Secrets of the Little Blue Box:
"Essentially it gives you the power of a super operator. You seize a tandem with this top button (he presses the top button with his index finger and the blue box emits a high-pitched cheep), and like that (cheep goes the blue box again) you control the phone company's long-distance switching systems from your cute little Princess phone or any old pay phone. And you've got anonymity.

An operator has to operate from a definite location: the phone company knows where she is and what she's doing. But with your beeper box, once you hop onto a trunk, say from a Holiday Inn 800 (toll-free) number, they don't know where you are, or where you're coming from, they don't know how you slipped into their lines and popped up in that 800 number. They don't even know anything illegal is going on. And you can obscure your origins through as many levels as you like. You can call next door by way of White Plains, then over to Liverpool by cable, and then back here by satellite. You can call yourself from one pay phone all the way around the world to a pay phone next to you.

And you get your dime back too."
Not that Jobs or Woz need any more dimes...
posted by cenoxo at 4:35 PM on September 1, 2006

Um, how is that shit "secret"?
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on September 1, 2006

Um, how is that shit "secret"?
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM PST

Now that you know and how often you post on Metfilter, you are is not a secret!
posted by rough ashlar at 5:34 PM on September 1, 2006

Woz really changed the world, but Draper's better known among hackers for his sex habits than his technical abilities & Mitnick's defining characteristic was his willingness to screw his friends over. And way too many reporters giving color commentary. Still, excellent footage of early phone phreaks in Lone Ranger masks, I'd never seen that before.
posted by scalefree at 6:23 PM on September 1, 2006

Thanks for the link, MetaMonkey. My knowledge of of the early hackers comes from the Hacker Crackdown and a few articles I've read over the past decade or so, so most of this is footage is new to me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:38 PM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

The 'Wozniak' link is also a nice interview about the origins and development of apple.
posted by MetaMonkey at 9:50 PM on September 1, 2006

There's a great book about this stuff. It's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy.
posted by neuron at 12:33 AM on September 2, 2006

Is it just me or does anyone else still want to just punch Markoff in the face for he did to Mitnick? Kevin was far from innocent but I've always felt Markoff went overboard embellishing the stuff Mitnick did to further his own career. I was disappointed to see how much the film makers relied on him to tell Mitnick's story. At least Littman was interviewed as well.

Ron Rosenbaum's Esquire piece is an amazing read. I wonder if he was the "Markoff" of the time for the phone phreaks.
posted by photoslob at 8:47 AM on September 2, 2006

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