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June 1, 2011 AT 6:10 pm

The Second Phone Phreak Convention

This article appeared in the Village Voice September 13th, 1973. It’s a great read:

One year ago the phone company had the phone phreaks on the run.

On May 8, 1972, a team of FBI and phone company security men arrested John Draper, alias “Captain Crunch,” the most notorious phone phreak of all. The Captain’s cherished computerized “Blue Box on wheels” was silenced.

And Joe Engressia, the original blind phone phreak genius who learned to make free calls by whistling into the mouthpiece — Joe had been busted and forced to abandon the underground phone phreak central office he had set up in his Memphis rooming house.

Police and phone company security agents had broken up phone phreak networks, and clandestine Blue Box manufacturing operations in Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Long Island. Crack phone company security teams had devised a combination of special computer programs, electronic pulse measuring equipment, and intensive surveillance to crack down on Blue Box and Black Box users.

One year ago when the First Annual Phone Phreak Convention opened in a basement meeting room in the Hotel Diplomat, phone company security agents seemed to outnumber genuine phone phreaks. The agents hardly bothered disguising their identities. They carried cameras and tape recorders. One stuffed phone phreak literature into an official-looking envelope with “Office of the District Attorney” printed on it.

[via Jason Scott]


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