Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell

Exploding the Phone The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell Before smartphones back even before the Internet and personal computer a misfit group of technophiles blind teenagers hippies and outlaws figured out how to hack the world s largest machine the t

  • Title: Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell
  • Author: PhilLapsley
  • ISBN: 9780802120618
  • Page: 464
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell

    Before smartphones, back even before the Internet and personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world s largest machine the telephone system Starting with Alexander Graham Bell s revolutionary harmonic telegraph, by the middle of the twentieth century the phone system had grown into something exBefore smartphones, back even before the Internet and personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world s largest machine the telephone system Starting with Alexander Graham Bell s revolutionary harmonic telegraph, by the middle of the twentieth century the phone system had grown into something extraordinary, a web of cutting edge switching machines and human operators that linked together millions of people like never before But the network had a billion dollar flaw, and once people discovered it, things would never be the same.Exploding the Phone tells this story in full for the first time It traces the birth of long distance communication and the telephone, the rise of ATT s monopoly, the creation of the sophisticated machines that made it all work, and the discovery of Ma Bell s Achilles heel Phil Lapsley expertly weaves together the clandestine underground of phone phreaks who turned the network into their electronic playground, the mobsters who exploited its flaws to avoid the feds, the explosion of telephone hacking in the counterculture, and the war between the phreaks, the phone company, and the FBI.The product of extensive original research, Exploding the Phone is a ground breaking, captivating book.

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      Published :2019-05-03T15:52:59+00:00

    One thought on “Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell

    1. Andy

      Who remembers Captain Crunch and his infamous blue box used for making free long distance phone calls? If you have ever looked at your iPhone, cable box or latest gee-whiz software and wondered just how it works inside, then you should read this book. Further, if you've ever gone a step beyond and taken that shiny new box apart and burned a chip or used a software tool to modify that machine's behavior, then you MUST read this book.Exploding the Phone is the result of five years of research by a [...]

    2. Brendon Schrodinger

      Alongside the age of space exploration in the 60s, 70s and 80s exploration of another type of space was underway. The place of exploration was not a physical space, but a communication network, possibly the largest communication network at that time. These adventurers were random geeks, way before being a geek was considered cool, who had discovered properties of the phones around them and proceeded to experiment, poke, prod and hack.At the time the US only had one telecommunications company, AT [...]

    3. Elizabeth K.

      I stayed up much, much too late reading this book. I loved it, but I also recognize that it's the kind of book where you probably have to go into it with a foundational interest in the subject matter - in this case, the phone phreaking of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, in which teenagers and young adults made a hobby out of finding and messing around with exploits in the AT&T phone system.It also helps if you like phone history overall, which I do. The other big aspect of this book is a look at the [...]

    4. Jeff Raymond

      A while back I read a book about the beginnings of computer hacker culture, Masters of Deception. It was a fun, mostly interview-based history of hackers and such, fairly thin but very appealing. A lot of the beginnings of phone phreak culture were also highlighted in the book, but didn't get a ton of play overall.Then, a few months ago, Radiolab did a podcast/show that highlighted a person who knew how to access the phone system and make calls simply by whistling the correct tones. He, along wi [...]

    5. Sheryl

      I really enjoyed this book. Having just started a new job in Kendall Square, it was really fun to be reading a book about innovation and in many ways that is what this book was about.The title and subtitle of the book made it seem like it would be a hacker-like story, kind of like The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage. And there definitely were parts that were exciting and had the characteristics of a thriller like that. But the book was really two stories - one [...]

    6. Timothy Hurley

      Good read about phone phreaks and hackers of the telephone company, their history from the beginning of phone lines, and why they do it. Very well researched and very well written. The technology parts are not overdone and the technology that is beyond understanding is not a detraction the way this is written. The human story is what counts and that is fascinating. The epilogue is intriguing. I would have liked knowing if the author's knowledge came exclusively from research or whether he may ha [...]

    7. Rob Hood

      If you like to learn about and understand how technology works, you'll love this book. It is long and sometimes difficult to read, but it is well worth it!

    8. Caleb

      This is a book about people hacking into the phone system from the mid 1950s until the 1980s, largely before hacking was even a word, to freely explore the telephone network. Many of them were simply telephone network enthusiasts - hence the term "phone phreaks". I found the story compelling, in part because it is fun to read about smart people outwitting the government and the most powerful corporation in the world, and in part because it gave me some new perspective on recent events (NSA data- [...]

    9. Nooilforpacifists

      Were you a "phone phreak"? The statutes of limitations long have expired, but the whistles packaged free in boxes of "Captain Crunch" cereal perfectly matched the Bell long-distance signaling codes in the pre SS-7 (signaling system 7) days, meaning up through the early eighties. There also were blue boxes and black boxes, with the same effect, albeit neither free nor easy to make. All of these fooled the Bell system into allowing free long distance charges.For some reason, I was delighted with t [...]

    10. Lynn

      The AT&T phone network was built over a number of years and became more automated over the years. Gradually, it connected across the country and other nations and continents. There no hackers so the company didn't plan for them. As the phone company gradually changed to a more automated systems in the early 60s, teens, organized crime and people who enjoyed with technology found ways to bypass paying for calls by making blue boxes and black boxes of cheap materials. The laws originally weren [...]

    11. Heather

      I'm quitting because I've lost interest. The beginning history of the phone network was fascinating, but, for me, the book bogged down and became repetitive while describing the stories of the individual phreaks. I think I'm also projecting my dislike of present day computer hackers onto the phreaks. But when does curiosity turn to mischief and mischief to crime? Some of the phreaks definitely made that journey. Finally, the story was pushing some of my feminist buttons. I think, aside from the [...]

    12. Bonnie_blu

      4.5 Stars. Even though I grew up in the era of omnipotent Ma Bell and my step-father worked for Pennsylvania Bell, I had little idea of the technical complexity of the Bell system. I also had no knowledge of the ingenious and uber-curious teens who spent thousands of hours hacking the system to see how it worked and what they could do with it. The time these "phone phreaks" devoted to exploring the Bell network and the effect this had on technological development is astonishing. As you may suspe [...]

    13. Adam

      Meticulously researched, well-written, and surprisingly engaging. I'm old enough to remember some of the very basic (social engineering) tricks we used to use to make fee calls, but hadn't had any exposure to the technological end of phreaking. Honestly, my favorite parts of this book were not the stories of the hackers, but the story of the development of the phone system itself. It's rare for me to enjoy reading something about as dry a topic as the evolution of switching devices. As a not-ver [...]

    14. Mary

      Very enjoyable read about the birth of hacker culture. I think it helps if you actually remember something about what phones were like before the break up of Ma Bell. He does a good job of explaining the technical parts in a simple manner and doesn't get bogged down in the technical details.

    15. Steve

      Immensely enjoyable book about phone hacking (phreaking) in the 60s and 70s - and incidentally a great history of the development of the phone system over the whole 20th century. Lots of interesting personalities. So much fun to read, for a computer nerd anyway.

    16. Taylor

      If I had only read the first half of this book, I'd have given it five stars.When I was asked what I thought of the book after the first few chapters, I accused it of being "too" interesting. I found the well-researched history of the telephone system fascinating, and the foundations this history would provide to the specific context of phone phreaking were duly addressed, to prevent the all-too-common nonfiction glut of "exposition intros." Well into the middle of the book and deep into the sto [...]

    17. Steve

      Very fun read that combined compelling stories with cultural history and some well-placed nostalgia. Lapsley does a great job of explaining the inner workings of the phone company (back in the day where it was indeed THE phone company) in a way that was not only compelling but also very understandable. The latter is hugely important, as when he starts describing how phone phreaks started discovering and exploiting the vulnerabilities in Ma Bell's technology, it's easy to grasp what they're doing [...]

    18. Rob

      Executive Summary: An interesting and seemingly well researched book on the history of phone phreaking. As someone whose been interested in computer/technology history, this book was right in my wheelhouse.Audiobook: Johann North does about all you can hope for with a non-fiction book. He's speaks clearly with good inflections and generally doesn't get in the way of the book he's reading. It's certainly a decent option for reading this book, but far from a "must listen".Full ReviewThis book was [...]

    19. Mark Schlatter

      Well, I found this to be sheer wonderfulness. Lapsley details the history of the phone phreak movement, starting with the early hackers who just wanted to understand the phone system to the later counterculture folks who wanted to rip off a powerful monopoly. At the same time, he covers the development of AT&T and details the steps the corporation took (or sometimes failed to take) to thwart those who tried to game the system.I don't think it's a perfect book. There is a huge cast of charact [...]

    20. krad

      [ + ] Hacking the mid-century telecommunications giant of AT&T is a niche but delightful topic that shows the reader the sheer ingenuity it takes to not only circumvent a billion-dollar industry - but to own it.[ + ] This book shows the ethos and motivation of these phone phreakers; no harm was meant, and all experimenting was done in the name of pushing the limits of modern technology. However, there is also an acknowledgement of the existence and motivations of the authorities that were ne [...]

    21. Eugene Miya

      This is not for humanist-historians types. This is a story about people and a developing technology. One can see that the engineers of the phone company had a hard enough time trying to get the early phone system to work much like the early Internet was just trying to work, deal with security later.Parts of the book are personal to me: I know Phil; I know Draper, and I know the times and parts of LA and the SF Bay area where where a lot of this took place (I'm surprised that Kevin Mitnick's name [...]

    22. Albert

      Four 1/2 stars. For as long as mankind has had any sort of technology, there have been those who sought to figure out how it works and what else can be done with it. This well-researched book is about the telephone, and specifically, the phone-phreak culture that evolved from it. This book gives the reader a grounding in the early design of the Bell System, and then explains how young, bright, and curious young men experimented with whistles, pulses and tones to explore the phone system and late [...]

    23. Jonathan

      A well-researched and engaging look at the phone phreaks in the 1950's/60's/70's who explored AT&T's network. Lapsley combed through government documents obtained through FIOA requests and conducted hundreds of interviews to piece together the story of a curious group of misfits who found security holes that enabled everything from party phone lines for phreaks around the country to calls to the White House. For me, the most interesting part of the book was the question: when does the curiou [...]

    24. Joe

      Great retrospective and expose on the early days of 'phone phreaking.' Includes a general overview of the development of the phone system - as well as many of the tips/techniques used throughout the 50s/60s/70s to 'explore' the phone system.Lapsley does a good job linking the individual personalities of various 'phreaks' and key phone company employees - weaving a tale of the covering the activities.Some of the stories are quite interesting - how blind teenagers accidentally discovered the 2600H [...]

    25. Rati Bars

      Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley, is a great book. I enjoyed his style, with a story of phone phreaking along with a bit of history. At the same time, you get an idea of a history of the telephone, how it evolved over time, how you could work around it. It gives you a perspective of smart teenagers with time in their hands. It is this exploring, that leads to novel ideas and inventions. I agree with the author when he says that tolerance for such teenagers should increase. I also felt it was [...]

    26. Steven Yenzer

      I really enjoyed this book. It's both a historical account of the development of the American telephone system and the story of the phone phreaks who learned its ins and outs. They really were the first hackers -- using trial-and-error to build an understanding of a massive, complex system that went far beyond the engineers who created that system. And in the vein of current attempts to revitalize the term "hacker," phone phreaks really weren't in it for anything other than curiosity and fun. Ve [...]

    27. Brad Wheeler

      I love it when I start reading a history book with only a vague idea of the subject matter, and then by the end I not only know vastly more than I did, but I can see where the history I just read about fits in with the history I already knew. That might sound weird, but it's one of the greatest pleasures of reading nonfiction, for me. As you've probably guessed, this was one of those books.I learned a lot about how the phone system worked in the pre-digital age. I learned how to break it. I lear [...]

    28. Christina Boyle

      If there are two words to describe the characters profiled in this book: turbo dorks. How has this book not been optioned for a film. It includes a passage of 17 year old Steve Jobs with 20 year old Steve Wozniak breaking into the Stanford Linear Accelorator Library to go find one of the Bell Technical Manuals and giggling and shreaking with glee - Holy Shit, holy shit. All too ridiculous. Basically the take away is that turbo dorks have been around since man kind and in the 50s and 60s their su [...]

    29. Toni

      I had missed hearing about this book being released, then saw it one day while in the bookstore, and I knew I had to pick it up. I'm a big fan of computer history in general, but the phone network and historical phreaking are especially interesting. My teenage years were a time of BBSes, exploring Ma Bell, and having endless conversations with friends about the two. Though it's nothing I condone today, it was a real treat reading some of the beginnings of the phone company and its exploits, espe [...]

    30. Joshua Elliott

      If you have any interest in hacking, voiding warranties, or using things not for their intended purposes but for some other unlimited potential; then this is the book for you. While I am much to young to have taken part in any of these phone-phreaking shenanigans, I can recall the sense of wonder picking up a phone and pondering the nearly unlimited number combinations and who may be on the other side of those connections. This tome is hugely informational with pockets of eclectic character and [...]

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