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A few famous "Phone Phreaks"

  • Joe Engressia - a.k.a "The Whistler" - The original phreaker, Joe Engressia was born blind, and (somehow!) acquired the ability to whistle any tone. He discovered phreaking by accident, by calling unconnected numbers and whistling back at the tone. Whenever he did so, he was quickly cut off, so he called AT&T, where a helpful employee explained the operation of the legendary 2600 Hz tone.
  • Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak - The founders of Apple computer spent their college years making and selling blue boxes (see above!) to the collegiate masses
  • John T. Draper - a.k.a., Cap'n Crunch - The father and elite legend of hackerdom, Draper acquired the nickname "Cap'n Crunch" in 1971 after discovering that the whistles packaged with Cap'n Crunch cereal produced a perfect 2600 Hz tone. His discovery brought phreaking (and the hacking mindset) into the public eye.
  • Kevin Mitnick - First hacker to appear on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. In his teens, he was a member of the Roscoe Gang, which performed extremely humorous pranks with phreaking talents. Switching home phones to require a 25 cent deposit, or seizing 411 numbers and giving ridiculous information (Yes, that number is 8750 and a half.)
  • Abbie Hoffman - founded the Youth International Party Line newletter (later renamed Technical Assistance Program) to teach telephone fraud to the Yippie movement.
Types of "Blue boxes", and what they allow a phreaker to do:
  • Blue - Make long-distance calls for the price of
  • local calls
  • Beige - Works like a lineman's headset, i.e. allows you to connect a phone directly to a line.
  • Purple - Make all calls (incl. long-distance) for free.
  • Silver - Free calls, etc. Used by the army.
  • Red - 'Pay' for calls, by faking the tone generated by inserting coins.
  • Black - Makes calls untraceable by keeping the line voltage low.

    For an interesting look at phreaker/hacker culture of the 70's & 80's, watch Hackers or Wargames.
    /msg me with anything important that I might have missed!

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