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Home > Tech Views > General Computing

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Captain Crunch

1. Page 1

One of the legendary figures of Silicon Valley, maybe the most famous hacker of all times, has made his come-back to action after a long absence, the only difference being that he is now upholding the law. John T. Draper, the fabulous “captain crunch”, the person who had driven the AT&T nuts in the 1970’s, has set up, at the age of 57, the ShopIP company, one that provides counsel pertaining to safety matters

The Captain Crunch tale starts at the end of the 60’s, when he realized that a whistle offered with the “Cap’n Crunch” cornflakes could actually outwit a digital telephone-console. The whistle would produce a 2600Hz sound, a frequency that signaled to the central distributor that the call was over. This way if a person would like to make a long-distance call, what they could do would just whistle in the specific frequency for just one second, and the system would cease charging the caller who was then able to hold the line for hours on end without being charged.

In 1970 he met Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniac (before they founded Apple Computer) and the three of them designed the well-known Blue-Box, an advanced 2600Hz whistle-contrivance. They started selling the aforesaid device door to door, but things got rough for John T. Draper. In October 1971 the Esquire magazine published an article under the title “The secrets of the small blue box.” In the article the function of the apparatus was being described and Draper was being referred to as its moving spirit. So, Captain Crunch was arrested by the FBI and convicted to 5 years of penal internment. Apart from the sentence imposed on him, the court of law denied him the use of a telephone set. When he was released he worked with the then newly founded Apple for a while, but at the end of the 1970s he was charged with violating his parole conditions and was arrested. He was sent to the Pennsylvania Correctional Institution. It was there that he was asked by some of the inmates about his secret on outwitting the telephone network. Being afraid that they would stool on him, he gave away the wrong information. As soon as they found out that their efforts to call free of charge turned out to be fruitless, they beat him to the point that he ended up with permanent afflictions.

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