cDc paramedia: texXxt #395
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     ...presents...       Confessions of a C0dez Kid
                                                         by Dark Sorcerer

           __//////\   -cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-   /\\\\\\__
                    __      Grand Imperial Dynasty      __
 Est. 1984   \\\\\\/ cDc paramedia: texXxt 395-08/09/2004 \//////   Est. 1984

  ___    _   _    ___     _   _    ___       _   _      ___    _   _      __
 |___heal_the_sick___raise_the_dead___cleanse_the_lepers___cast_out_demons__|

     What seems like a long time period at age thirteen seems significantly
shorter when you're over double that age.  With that in mind, the entire
"hacker phenomenon" should be viewed as an extreme bit of ephemera, the result
of a naive convergence between technology and what can be stereotyped as
1980's teenage angst and rebellion.  The "hacker kid" became (in a matter that
Jean Baudrillard would be proud of) not only a reflection of ourselves, but an
ideal we aspired to as well... and was really only a viable archetype for less
than ten years.  This should be kept in mind by any third-party who's
attempting to put this scene in some sort of historical perspective.  This
file specifically relates experiences of those of us who saw John Hughes
movies at an actual movie theater back in the 80's.  ("Hackers" generally
meaning self-described phone phreaks and those who obtained unauthorized
access to corporate computer networks, not just people good with computers).

     These ramblings were inspired by my recent discovery of some old BBS
buffers and text files I had booted up on my old Apple II while recently
visiting my parents' house.  Luckily (or unluckily) for you, I have a
near-photographic memory of all of these events.

     This surely has thousands of corollaries from around the U.S.  My
question is: where are you all now?

     My father had been transferred to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado
Springs, CO at the beginning of the summer in 1986, right during some extreme
hormonal changes on my behalf.  I was twelve years old at the time, and had
absolutely nothing to do, with no kids in my neighborhood.  In lieu of this,
my mother signed me up for a BASIC programming class for "gifted" (or perhaps
just geeky) kids at one of the local high schools.  Of course, the class was
really more about playing video games and networking with other fledgling
geeks than it was about programming.  But the last day of class was devoted to
something I'd always been interested in: the modem.

     I'd been fascinated by modems for years and finally my father had
purchased a NetWorker modem during late 1984 for our Apple II, but due to only
having one local BBS to our old house in Iowa and my father's unwillingness to
pay for CompuServe I had quickly lost interest in it.  To call this modem
primitive by today's standards would be an understatement; while it lacked the
classic acoustic coupler design (made famous by "WarGames", therefore becoming
engrained in the public mind as what a modem looked like) it did not have any
sort of auto-connection feature.  This meant that when you dialed in and heard
a carrier tone, you had to press a switch exterior to the computer to connect
to the desired baud rate (110 or 300).  This 300-baud monstrosity was about
the cheapest modem on the market, but at $200 (in 1984 dollars) was still
relegated to at least middle-class youth and their associated parents.

     We briefly touched on the subject of bulletin-board systems (BBSes) and
our instructor provided the numbers for a couple of local systems, which I
proceeded to call when I got home.  They were fairly typical and boring for
the time: systems frequented by off-duty COBOL programmers run on a variety of
home-grown systems, perhaps TRS-80's or something running CP/M, exchanging
messages on the dry subjects of sports and politics.  However, I did manage to
stumble on a list of other local bulletin boards, and of course the ones that
intrigued me were ones with the following names:

          Valhalla (?)
          Elite Connection 548-9519
          Underground Star 390-0783
          Adventurer's Cove 598-6669

     At the time, there was not nearly the stigma associated with hacking or
piracy in the general computer community that there is now, and there was very
little concern about what the "proper" uses of computers were in the general
BBS community.  Many people were not even aware they were breaking the law by
having pirated software around the house, and software was freely copied at
computer users' groups and the like.  Many older BBSers were 60's types with
some sort of anti-establishment bent, and even in 1986, you were still
considered more than just a little weird if you had anything to do with
computers.  Even sysops of "respectable" boards (the ones where old guys
talked about politics) might know a bit about making a Blue Box or have a copy
of the latest game you wanted.  I would imagine that thousands of other people
were therefore exposed to what is now called "computer crime" in such a
benign, clueless way.

     Calling the aforementioned boards would end up causing a dramatic change
in my life, but I had no idea at the time.  The first system I ended up
calling was Valhalla, a part-time BBS (the type that was NEVER up during its
purported hours of operation, usually run by a junior-high school kid who
didn't have the money for his own phone line.)  But on this particular
occasion, the board happened to be up.  I dialed in and proceeded to log in as
normal; the Sysop (one "Loki Odinsson") ended up breaking into chat mode
immediately and offered to verify my access on the spot and call me back
voice.  He was running a part-time BBS off of a Commodore 64 with one floppy
disk drive, and apparently I was his only user thus far along with his best
friend, who had chosen the handle Thor Odinsson.  The details of the
conversation are hazy, but I do remember him making allusions to "hacking MCI"
and him somehow providing me with a list of long-distance Commodore 64 pirate
BBSes, with exotic names like "The Gates Of Hell and "Underground Empire".

     I proceeded to call The Gates of Hell next.  I logged in, and remember
navigating through the message boards, where people cursed at each other on
"The War Board", engaged in the then-raging Apple II vs. Commodore 64 debate,
and wrote stories on the "Sex Board" (I'm sure in retrospect, a bunch of sex
stories by what surely were a bunch of 15 year old virgins would be highly
comical.)

     Scared of the phone bill, I logged off after ten minutes, and proceeded
to call the other numbers local to me.  The Elite Connection was next, and its
new user log in page had tons of scary information about "entrapment" and how
each user must provide their actual voice number for verification.  I did as I
was told, curious to see if anyone would actually call me.  (No one ever did.)
The message boards on the Elite Connection were filled with vague references
about hacking and phreaking, and the system did not seem terribly active.
However, there did seem to be a raging local war between the Warlock (the
sysop of the Underground Star) and The Master Kracker, a local Apple pirate,
each of which saying they were going to kick each others' asses and the like.
The Warlock also seemed to misspell every other word in his posts, for some
sort of dramatic effect.  This also seemed to be an extension of the Apple vs.
Commodore 64 thing, with the Elite Connection's C64 using sysop Night Runner
backing The Warlock with Apple II pirate The Assassin backing The Master
Kracker.  The Apple users were part of some local group called "PPPG" (Pikes'
Peak Pirates' Guild.)  The C64 vs. Apple thing was very predominant during
this time period, and was, in my opinion, steeped in class conflict.  In
retrospect, the C64 was not a bad computer, and had much better graphics/sound
and (important for every teenage geek) consequently, video games.  But the
Apple was more predominant in upper-middle class America, with all of the
logical consequences not worth going into here.

     At this point, I was getting tired, so I proceeded to log off and call
the Underground Star, which was filled with more of the same sort of thing.  A
couple of days later, I called the Elite Connection back, and made a
solicitation for anyone who wanted to trade "APPLE GAMES".  I had made posts
on BBSes before, but still had no idea how to transfer files over the modem.
When I called back the next day, I had an e-mail from The Assassin, whose real
name was John, to give him a call at 574-2872.  I gave him a call, and as it
turned out he was a sophomore at the same high school I had gotten my
introduction to BBSes at.  He was also lacking a 1200 baud modem, which at the
time meant being restricted access to all forms of pirate BBSes due to its
slow speed.  Being a 300-baud only user in 1986 was the equivalent of being an
untouchable in India; you generally only associated with other untouchables
and no one wanted much to do with you.

     John was friendly and patient with me, and he had many new games that I
wanted.  He sent me a copy of Dalton's Disk Disintegrator which allowed for
the compression of an entire Apple II floppy into one file, and then we did a
300-baud transfer of the Activision game Hacker, which took about two hours.
If you've never seen text slow by at 300 baud, suffice to say that most
college graduates can probably read text faster than 300 baud can scroll by.
He also sent me a copy of a couple of other programs he seemed very impressed
with himself for owning - Time Bomb and Microhacker.  He also made references
to "hacking MCI" and I asked him for further clarification.  The clarification
went something like this:

     "Dial 630-TIME, and start entering codes starting with 10000, followed by
a number.  If the number goes through, you have a good code.  If not, redial
and start with 10001, etc."  In retrospect, dialing codes incrementally,
starting with the same value every time, was incredibly bad advice, although
no one ever seemed to get busted by MCI locally.

     After we had finally transferred Hacker after a couple of aborted attemps
and staid conversation, The Assassin had started to grow a bit impatient with
me, probably annoyed by this twelve year old kid who kept asking him what
other games he had.  (He proved a bit short with me on subsequent phone calls
to his house.)  However, now I was armed with the knowledge on how to make
free phone calls, plus I had a couple of weird-sounding hacker programs in the
form of Microhacker and Time Bomb.  Microhacker was a tool written by a Denver
local to hack "MetroPhone" (I had no idea what that was) which didn't work due
to its requiring a modem with autoconnect capabilities, and Time Bomb allowed
you to format someone's disk after a specified number of boots and display
what was invariably a smart-ass message, something that would allow for much
jocularity with the kids at school who always wanted to come over and copy
games from me.  The Assassin also gave me a copy of ASCII Express, which
allowed exchange of files with the Xmodem protocol in addition to being one of
the most obscure, hard-to-learn, and powerful terminal programs ever
developed.

     I decided to call 630-TIME.  I dialed the number, and after several
seconds a weird droney sounding tone greeted me.  I dialed 10000, followed by
a random long-distance number in Denver.  The number immediately rang, and a
stock corporate-announcer female voice stated that "The access code you have
entered is not valid."  This voice was a bit unnerving, so I did not try to
"hack" any more codes that night.

     Since I had nothing to do, I started calling the Elite Connection,
Underground Star, and several other local boards on an almost daily basis,
although I didn't make that many other voice connections due to my owning an
Apple II, and most of the bulletin boards local to me were Commodore 64 in
nature.  This quickly proved to be boring, as most of the boards didn't get
more than a few posts in a day.  As the summer dragged on, I became more
impertinent and started to lose fear of "hacking MCI."  Finally, one day the
sysop of the Elite Connection, Night Runner,  broke in after I had tried
(C)hatting with him.  He also proved to be mostly friendly and offered a
"PHREAK CODE" (I was mostly using an old Apple II+ computer, and did not have
a lower-case modification key) as well as telling me to call a better board in
the Dallas, TX area that was more active and dedicated to hacking, the
"Thieve's Underground" (sic.)  In hindsight, he was probably just sick of me
calling every single day and tying up his line.  He also offered me access to
the "Elite!" section of his BBS, where people would post information on
hacking and phreaking, piracy, and other things.

     Somewhat nervous, I called 630-TIME and entered the code Night Runner had
offered, followed by the number for the Thieve's Underground.  Unlike previous
attempts, the number did not immediately ring, but hung there for some time
until a remote ring could be heard.  (We were not even on ESS1A in Colorado
Springs at that time, and it sometimes took 20 or more seconds to dial a LOCAL
number - we were in Crossbar, with a couple of areas even in Step by Step.  If
I had even known about a Blue Box at the time, I could have actually used that
instead of these MCI codes.)  I then got carrier and proceeded to connect to
the Thieve's Underground.  It was definitely the most hardcore BBS I had ever
seen at the time, again requiring a "real phone number" for verification and
certification that "you are not a member of any law enforcement agency".
Additionally, it required you to define some "hacker terms" which I failed at
miserably: what was COSMOS? What was TELENET?

     Needless to say, I was rejected from the Thieve's Underground.  But from
that point forward, I was determined to find out what exactly the terms were
that I didn't understand.  But of course, I was still concerned with getting
all of the new games I didn't have access to and that would only be possible
with the fabled 1200 baud modem.

     In the meantime, I'd also been granted access on a board called Skeleton
Island in Richmond, VA, (I believe at 303-747-8920) a board that was a
complete throwback to what looked like it must have been about 1982.  The
sysop, "The Skeleton", was running custom-built software on an Apple II
computer with a ten megabyte hard disk, completely devoted to text files!  It
was here that I first started reading about the history of hacking, as amongst
all of the files there were all-caps transcriptions of old TAP Magazine
articles, some of the first things I had read about hacking.  (The board
wasn't exactly updated regularly, so what were considered newer hack/phreak
periodicals such as PHRACK were left out.)  In TAP Magazine's mind, evil was
personified in the form of the pre-antitrust Bell Corporation, and I read
about how Bell harassed its employees as well as phreaks, even driving one to
suicide.  I read about how to construct a Blue Box and a Black Box, Cheshire
Catalyst's "Hacker's Anthem", and some file called "A Man Called Boris" about
a Russian expatriate who was ripping off the Soviet government by thousands of
dollars by insuring mail to dissidents, who would be refused delivery, forcing
the government to pay up. There was some article on how to coat stamps with
Elmer's Glue and reuse them, as well as a huge BBS list from about 1983, and
information on removing copywrite protection from games.

     It's undoubtedly true that no small amount of kids were influenced by the
anti-establishment, libertarian philosophies that permeated these types of
boards.  The range of anti-authoritarianism ran the gamut from left-wing
socialism to good 'ol boy giving the middle finger to the US government, but
libertarianism was the dominant theme.  In addition, it still wasn't *that*
risky to engage in hacking and phreaking, so it had the allure of a restricted
activity without the risk.  The demographic was pure 1980's - almost strictly
white adolescents, with no small amount of passive (or even overt) racism.
Certainly, no effort was made to incorporate this raw teenage angst into a
more far-reaching critique of power or authority of any sort, but it did make
it "OK" to feel pissed off at the world around you.  Hackers were basically
punks and misfits with computers, and were usually smarter than the rest of
their peers.  Being exposed to what seemed like such powerful information did
not help many of us adjust to life in the "real world", where you had to learn
some sort of bounds of acceptable behavior.  But in the beginning, it was
merely benign curiosity about the world that got almost every kid who has a
story like this involved with "computer crime", not some sort of malicious
intent - that was what always confused the authorities.

     I had continued down the boring path of being a 300 baud, mostly local
user, calling the same boards too many times, although I did learn how to scan
our local Telenet ports for remote systems.  Unfortunately, I had little idea
how to hack into them (I did obtain access with a couple of typical
username/password combinations like JOHN/JOHN and TEST/TEST), completely
clueless as to what I was doing, especially with what to do once in the
system.

     I continued my path in 300-baud loserdom until Christmas of 1986, at
which point I received a 1200 baud Prometheus ProModem as my Christmas
present.  It wasn't the Apple-Cat that I wanted, but to have 1200 baud was
incredibly exciting nonetheless.  Now I could actually call "real" BBSes,
(most of which would either hang up immediately or echo an insulting message
like "Call back when you get a real modem" if attempting to connect at 300
baud).  After some consternation (ASCII Express stopped giving me my "->"
prompt I was used to with the new modem, expecting the Hayes "AT" command set
instead) with configuration, I proceeded to call The Roadhouse BBS in Anaheim,
California, which had always refused to let me "Run AE" at 300 baud, but let
me in with no problem at 1200 baud.  Now I could get all of the latest games -
the first one I downloaded was Shard of Spring - and the MCI code I used to
call insured that it was all free, free, free.

     This also was my earliest memory of a paranoid way of thinking that I
still get tinges of to this day - the feeling that every "kodez kid" had when
your phone would ring IMMEDIATELY after you would hang up after calling for
free; that sinking feeling that they were "tracing" you that whole time,
calling you right back to let you know your number was up!  Even worse, you'd
sometimes start thinking that they "traced" you, but you wouldn't know until
the police came knocking at your house two weeks later.  There was always an
inclination to say that the next time you'd use those damn codes would be the
last, at least until you realized how expensive long distance was back then
(even night-time rates were often more than $.20 a minute, quite a bit for a
13 year old kid with no job.)  There was really no way to stop once you
started.

     I wasn't too worried about the codes though - no one else had been busted
for using them, although I did receive a scare when someone who said they were
from the (FBI?  Mountain Bell?  I can't remember) called my house, saying they
were logging all calls to the Elite Connection since so many bootleg phone
calls had their destination there, and I was calling it a lot, even though it
was local.  I still don't know if this was complete bullshit or not, although
that's my inclination with the benefit of hindsight.  At the time though, the
person calling did seem "official", and if it was a joke on the part of the
Sysop, they didn't make an effort to make it very humorous - surely any good
teenager would have punctuated a hoax like that with a bit of humor.  But
sadly, even the "FBI" calling my house didn't seem to deter much of the
behavior I was going to get involved with over subsequent years.

     I was now determined to get involved in the pirate scene, with its
promise of unlimited "wares"; games would be available to me right after being
released on the market!  One of the first boards I called was the Trade Center
in New Jersey (201-256-4202), the headquarters of the Apple pirate group
Digital Gang.  Digital Gang, as I remember, was composed of about half
absolutely brilliant programmers (one in particular was named Tom E. Hawk, who
did extensive modifications to the Dalton's Disk Disintegrator utility) and a
couple of locals in 201 named The Triton (Eddie) and High Voltage (Tony).  The
former was rumored to be a high school dropout, who was some fat rich kid who
had a lot of money to buy software and run the Trade Center, and High Voltage
was another 14 year old rich kid who lived nearby.  I knew that I had to get a
reference from a "real" pirate board in order to get accepted on other pirate
boards - you needed references of other boards you called as well as other
"reputable" pirates to get accepted.  I had no idea how to start doing this,
but you could send a donation to the Trade Center, which I assumed would get
you access.  I sent in a paltry $5 donation and The Triton granted me access
to the Trade Center, which gave me a slight bit of clout in the pirate world.
I'd also gotten a lower-case modification for my Apple II+, so I could use
that computer without that sure sign of rodenthood - having to post in all
caps.

     With 1200 baud, I immediately started to trade all of the software I
could get my hands on.  I quickly left the realm of some of these 714 pirate
boards I was calling (because they accepted 300 baud users) and started
calling some of the "top tier" pirate boards in the country.  Despite an early
rejection from Remote Hideout (818-999-3680) I was accepted on every other
board I called.  There was an awesome board in 213 called the Norse Wanderer
that had custom BBS software, and you had to be voted on by other users on the
board (the sysop actually let me on without being voted on, one of the early
"breaks" I got in the scene.)  There was The Citadel at 213-493-2011, which
was ALWAYS busy but always had the latest wares with no credit system - you
could call and leech for hours if you wanted.  There was Club Zero in 213 as
well, run by Pac-Rat.  The Abyss at 818-993-7422 , which I had to call at 300
baud due to its being a "202" only board (202 was the Apple-Cat's proprietary
half-duplex 1200 baud standard), but which had some great discussions on
religion, politics, and music, which was sysoped by Dark Cavalier (I'd chosen
"Dark Sorcerer" as my alias at the time, as it seemed like there were a lot of
other "Dark whatever" type aliases, i.e., Dark Prophet, Dark Dante, etc.)
There was Red-Sector-A at 313-591-1024 run by the Necromancer and best of all,
the Curse at 612-544- 3980.  The Curse was run by The Incognito and was a
message-only board that was very popular.  The Incognito had lots of really
cool modifications to his board, as he had taken to programming after being
busted for credit card fraud (sometime in 1984, I believe - he wrote a text
file about it called "The Day The Secret Service Raided My House" or something
along those lines, in addition to authoring "How To Spot A Loser On A BBS").
There was an area where you could simulate logging in to vintage-era Apple II
pirate boards like the South Pole, the Arabian Dezert, and Sherwood Forest, as
well as hack/phreak boards like Plovernet, World of Cryton, and Blottoland.
These boards seemed ancient at the time, but in fact it had really only been
three years since they had gone down (again, the time-perspective of a 14 year
old is very different.  Three years seems like nothing to a post-college
grad.)

     There was also a blank "graffiti wall" area, which I remember as being
the current home of a war between The Martyr, a pirate from Braintree, MA who
ran a board called Brave New World, and assorted other pirates like Touch Tone
and Sorcerer's Apprentice.  I remember anonymous comments like the following:
evidently The Martyr said he had some sort of "connections" and was going to
fuck up the other members, which solicited comments about The Martyr evidently
being in a wheelchair, in addition to being incredibly ugly (Sorcerer's
Apprentice said that "I can't wait until your ugly face is in a 34 sector
BFILE for all us ][ folks out there and a full-blown GIF for the IIGS
people").  In what could have been an unrelated incident, Touch Tone made
claims to being in the Mafia which elicited similar sorts of disdain.  It was
all highly entertaining.

     There were also quite a few "AE" systems still floating around (as well
as Cat-Fur systems, which didn't apply to me).  This was simply ASCII Express
in remote mode, where you could call a remote system and transfer files back
and forth after entering a password.  The most famous of these was probably
the Metal AE at 201-879-6668, (pw: KILL)  which to my knowledge was the
absolute last surviving such system in the country (the sysop even kept it
running on two floppies after his 10 meg drive crashed!)  These systems could
be highly entertaining due to their graffiti-wall, free flowing nature.  A
typical 10 or 20 meg AE system would probably be 20% software (usually older,
but good for picking up some older stuff that you missed earlier on), 20-30%
textfiles, and a bunch of blank two-sector text files people would upload with
"file names" ragging on other users or sometimes with a really mean or racist
content to them (remember, things were much less sensitive 10-15 years ago,
and these are pissed off white suburban kids we're talking about.)  The sysop
of the Metal AE, Lustfer Death, was also infamous for busting into chat mode
unexpectedly and asking questions like "Got any codes" or "Why do you smoke
pot"), the latter evidently just for entertainment value.

     The whole pirate scene was fun, but lost its lustre pretty fast, even for
a video-game crazy 13 year old.  For one, I started realizing that most of
these games weren't really that entertaining.  Most pirates with talent
usually got more into programming, which was somewhat alluring but I didn't
have much exposure to it, much less the patience.  Plus, by mid-1987 the
number of Apple II games was starting to get slower and slower, and the
quality of games was getting less and less, as it became obvious less original
development was going on on the Apple, with most of the games being ports from
the Commodore 64.  It started to be pretty clear that the Apple II platform
(with the exception of the IIGS, which was incredibly expensive and was not
Apple's top priority) was becoming less viable.  In addition, it seemed to
start getting more difficult to obtain codes for our local MCI ports, as the
whole need for extenders was lessening as "Plus One" service became available.
I started to get interested in the Amiga family of computers, but had to
resign myself to the aging Apple II in the meantime.

     Then, something happened that changed my point of view of the "computer
underground" forever.  Some user had posted regarding a system on the Trade
Center called WizNet that wasn't just another BBS with a regular dial-up line
- it was an entire bootleg BBS that had been set up on a Prime system out on
Telenet, and had a chat room in it.  What's more, most of WizNet's users
weren't just software pirates who programmed or possibly used phone codes,
they were hackers in the true sense, and they seemed to be so much more
interesting and mysterious than most of the pirates in the waning Apple II
scene.  WizNet (programmed by The Wizard) would invariably go down a couple of
days after it was put up as it would be discovered by an unlucky sysadmin, but
it was about the coolest thing I'd witnessed in the computer scenes yet.

     At the time, Telenet had just closed a major security flaw which hackers
called "pad-to-padding" which allowed you to basically dial in to a Telenet
port and connect recursively to another Telenet port, allowing you to "listen
in" as a silent guest to whatever the remote user might be doing.  I
unfortunately missed the tail-end of this, but it had resulted in a virtual
gold mine of network accounts and passwords on Telenet.  There were tons of
"NUI's" (Network User ID's)  floating around, a few of which were shared with
all of the known world, which allowed connecting to any port on Telenet.  And
a few of these ports were called Altos and Altgers, two chat systems in
Hamburg, Germany, which were frequented by hackers all over the world and were
linked to by WizNet.  These quickly became overrun with morons, but until
about the summer of 1988 or so were frequented by all manners of hackers, and
at the time, the thought that you were conversing with people via a system on
another continent from all around the world seemed like something out of a
futuristic cyberpunk novel.  Again, this broke down the conceptions that you'd
typically have as a suburban teenager, only confined to the options present at
your high school.  Suddenly you were talking to hackers like Shatter from the
UK, or Logex from Mexico, and you might find out that the Mexican phone
switching system is more advanced than the one you're on.

     Hackers tended to be a little more of a snooty, elitist group than the
pirates did, and they were more heterogenous in nature.  It was a sport
accessible to anyone with a modem and a terminal; you didn't need a high-speed
modem or a gazillion meg hard drive to compete.  This was natural given my
hardware, which was becoming less impressive by the day.  But generally, you
had to know your shit, and the learning curve was pretty steep.  It wasn't
enough to know how to get _into_ systems, you had to know VAX, Primos, or UNIX
inside and out to garner any respect.  And no one was really telling you how
to get _in_ to these systems to begin with, despite the rash of accounts
unearthed by the pad-to-pad phenomenon.  If you wanted to start hacking, you
generally had to do three things:  (1)  Find systems to hack.  This was
accomplished by scanning Telenet or Tymnet, or by scanning every night for
local systems with a "wardialing" utility.  Any major metro area would usually
yield a ton of potentially hackable systems if you wardialed every night.  (2)
Know what system you were in.  Generally, there were UNIX, VAX/VMS, Primos,
HP3000, and maybe a few older systems like TOPS-20 (which was remarkably
hacker-friendly in that it would allow you to view a list of valid usernames
without being logged in, necessitating only the guessing of passwords).  (3)
Know how to get in.  Generally, this was pure trial and error, or you could
try "social engineering" (i.e., bullshitting the users).  Mostly, you started
with default accounts that you knew would be likely to exist on the system,
and tried a bunch of passwords until you'd get in.  Maybe if you were lucky,
you'd get an unprotected root password - (yeah, right!).  (4)  Network with
other hackers.  To be fair, there were a lot of hackers that never called
BBSes, solitary weirdos of the Kevin Mitnick variety.  (I remember hearing of
one legendary hacker named "Sir Qix" during this time as well who supposedly
never saw the light of day).  But having friends to talk to and teleconference
with every day made things a lot more fun, and at the end of the day, it was
mainly a social scene - albeit a strange one.

     And the teleconference... this was always one of the highlights of the
hack/phreak experience.  If you were diligent, you could find a PBX that would
allow calls to Alliance Teleconferencing (0-700-456-1000, I believe) which
would allow you to talk to over fifty people at once.  Alliance conferences
could go on for days and days, usually dwindling to two or three participants
in the early morning Pacific time, at which point the usual suspects were
waking up during Eastern time, building the conference until it reached a
dozen people or so the next evening.  There were always rumors of Alliance
bills coming to customers in shoebox-sized containers and the like.  Alliance
did have one defense mechanism, though; those whose numbers showed up too
frequently on fraudulent bills would get "blacklisted", which would result in
the entire conference going down.  There were also bridges, which were the
equivalent of unofficial "party lines" in the 1980's sense of the word.  You'd
dial in to a bridge, and talk to whoever had dialed in as well.  I had a
couple of decent conversations on these bridges, but usually they'd get taken
over by "bridge trolls", usually 13 year olds who would get on and play
touch-tone music or something equally as annoying.

     But as stated before, it wasn't necessarily easy to get accepted among
hackers.  I did have one thing going for me though, and that was that I could
write at what seemed to be a much higher level than my actual age.  No one
ever seemed to understand how this scene encouraged creativity and
intellectual development like none other.  Knowledge was a prerequisite for
admittance to higher echelons of the hacking circle, as you were generally
expected to behave and learn as if you were in the very top of the Bell Curve
in terms of IQ.  And the topics of conversation would often extend far beyond
computers, reaching into the realms of history, politics, or music (I was
first exposed to all matter of punk, new wave, and dance music through people
in this scene, many of whom might have lived somewhere cool like New York City
or Los Angeles and weren't relegated to the Whitesnake-style crap I had to
deal with on the local radio.)  I don't think this drive to increase knowledge
was engendered by any other youth subculture scene before or since - and it is
certainly not a byproduct of the American public school system.  You were
exposed to youths who were actually reading Nietzsche and understanding it -
and solely due to intellectual curiosity, not out of some coffeehouse
intellectual pretention.

     But of course, being only fourteen years old at the time, my first
exposure to this scene was one of dismal failure in terms of acceptance.  I
met the sysop of the Dallas Hack Shack on WizNet, who let me call his board
and granted me access.  Unfortunately, I must have been ferreted out as a
newbie, because my subsequent phone calls revealed that my access had been
revoked after a single call.  However, I'd been rejected from BBSes before and
this left me undeterred.  Later on, I remember I was going to be offered
membership into some new group called xTension, run by a rodent-turned-elite
named ParMaster.  When asked what my skills were on Altos, I jokingly replied
"being elite" which was evidently taken seriously by a humorless Necrovore,
which resulted in me being denied access in to the group.  How the irony of
that one escaped him, I never understood.  There was obviously a whole new
realm to explore out there, and I was committed to be a part of it.  Armed
with my NUI's that everyone else in the world had, I started scanning Telenet
intensely, as well as wardialing every night for local systems.  I gained
access to numerous UNIX, VAX, and Primos systems through binges of all-night
scanning and attacking common username/password combinations, which I then
shared with others or posted to boards.  I took a keen liking to Primos
systems due to their possession of a unique utility - NETLINK.  NETLINK
typically allowed any Prime system on an x25 network to access any other NUA
(Network User Address) on the network, so these systems could serve as a
launch pad to other systems.  I remember PRIMOS being very difficult to learn,
although in retrospect, UNIX is still a lot harder.  Necrovore actually wrote
an exhaustive compendium of PRIMOS CPL commands, a text file that can be found
on www.textfiles.com to this day under the "hack" section.

     There was another problem brewing, though.  It seemed as though my local
MCI ports, which had been fairly regular sources of free phone calls, were
almost completely dry.  No one seemed to be able to get much out of them, and
any codes obtained were generally dead within 24 hours.  I also had growing
reservations about doing the typical "autoscanning" with a modem from my home,
due to heightened security in our then-new digital switching system that
allowed for easier identification of callers.  Luckily, I'd found a new
service (On my own, although there were many others who were already using it)
in the form of MidAmerica Communications, or 950-1001, a popular service with
Rocky Mountain region phreaks.  The first code I ever tried on this system,
548951, ended up lasting me over three (!) months, and the connections were
crystal clear.  But I did take to hacking these codes by hand from my local
7-11's payphone, as all 950 calls were free.  And I did find out a couple of
years later, when the Secret Service raided my house, that I actually had a
DNR (Dialed Number Recorder) on my phone line for a brief period of time
before I took to hand-scanning, but I had conveniently stopped scanning at the
same time, so my usage was disregarded for some reason.  At the time, it
seemed as though many people were starting to see the handwriting on the wall
- that Automatic Number Identification and enhanced security features found in
the new digital switching systems were eventually going to render hacking and
phreaking unviable.  But I knew that was at least a couple of years off, and I
hoped that I would be able to have fun at least until my 18th birthday....

     I'd managed to hack into at least twenty systems that first summer of
1988, and was feeling quite pleased with myself.  I seemed to have a lot of
newer on-line friends, although I hadn't met two of the hackers I would end up
talking to for hours on end every single day yet.  (If you ever read this, you
know who you are).  I was particularly proud of several UNIX systems I broke
into in Finland, which I accessed with the NUI's I had and just reeked of
exoticism.  There also seemed to be a sort of "hacker's revival" movement, as
more people were getting involved again after a series of busts that occurred
in 1987, the most notable being a 17 year old named Shadow Hawk, aka Herbert
Zinn.  The spearhead of this movement was on a board called the Phoenix
Project in Austin, TX, run by an extremely knowledgeable hacker named The
Mentor.  The Mentor, whose real name was Loyd Blankenship, has been forever
immortalized as the one who penned the angry "Conscience of a Hacker" (which
somehow has made it into academic texts on computer security and hacking) as
well as the "Beginner's Guide To Hacking", which no doubt influenced hundreds
of ne'er-do-wells to undertake hacking as a hobby.  (He also famously penned
the Steve Jackson Cyberpunk game, which resulted in Steve Jackson Games being
comically raided by the Feds in early 1990).  The Phoenix Project was about
the only place where anyone could get access, and questions could be answered
by the cream of the crop members of the hacker community, the Legion of Doom.
I remember one file written by The Prophet which was an introductory text on
UNIX hacking that was particularly excellent.  There were some new
technologies, such as 9600 baud modems, that had allowed users to run bigger,
better boards and transfer more data.  This also marked the summer that many
people I knew started experimenting with one of the darker sides of the
hacking scene, "carding", or credit card fraud.

     "Marijuana is the flame; heroin is the fuse; LSD is the bomb."  -Joe
Friday on an LSD scare episode of _Dragnet_

     Generally, the hacker's entrance into fraud can be compared to the
classic propaganda of marijuana eventually leading to hard drugs and
culminating with shooting heroin.  What starts off as benign curiosity,
causing a lot of consternation and paranoia, eventually becomes banal,
especially in the sped-up, attention-deficit deprived world of the teenage
hacker.  If the hacker has no desire to learn about the systems or networks in
question, hacking quickly becomes not an end but rather a means to bigger and
better thrills.  Most pirates were content to learn about their own computers,
dabbling in phone fraud as a means to stay in touch with their cohorts.  Some
hackers did draw the line at credit card fraud, merely content to explore the
systems they break into.  But many... and they were not statistically
insignificant numbers in terms of the whole community... ended up getting
bored with breaking into remote computer systems and turned to outright theft
for bigger thrills.

     Theft had always been a part of the hacking experience, at least in part.
"Dumpster diving" was considered a great way to garner discarded passwords and
technical manuals, and there were many of us who broke into our local Bell
office in hopes of finding manuals and technical equipment.  "Tapping cans"
was also popular - you could find those big round "cans" on telephone poles
and monitor phone calls with a phone and a $5 visit to Radio Shack.  But the
temptation to engage in outright fraud was definitely engaged in to no small
degree, spurred on by the ridiculously easy availability of credit card
numbers.  Most Americans seemed unaware that during this time period, anyone
who needed to check your credit rating (say, the used car dealership where you
placed a benign inquiry about a purchase last week) could do so through an
account with TRW or CBI.  TRW seemed to be the de facto standard for hackers
in the early to mid 1980's, but it seemed to have been supplanted by CBI in
the later 1980's.  Some enterprising hacker had actually figured out the
number seed for the generation of CBI accounts, which effectively had opened
up every CBI account in the country for potential abuse.  (This also happened
with ITT calling cards on the infamous 950-0488 extension and American Express
credit cards during the late 1980's.  It makes you wonder if companies have
taken to more sophisticated number generation schema in the new millennium.)

     But at any rate, credit card numbers ran like water, and if you had a
modicum of clout in the scene (hacking CBI was only marginally harder than
hacking "codez") you could feasibly pull the credit card history of anyone you
didn't like, especially your high school English teacher that was pissing you
off and giving you a hard time.  And it seemed like for a while, EVERYONE was
carding everything under the sun.  There was some kid named Lord Zeus who had
at least a dozen US Robotics HST modems, valued at $500 a pop.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of the hackers in New York City I knew, including one
The Guardian who ran an Amiga pirate board called FBI BBS, were carding entire
computer systems.  There were reports of kids getting busted and having tens
of thousands of dollars in stolen hardware in the closet of their houses, with
their parents blissfully unaware of what was going on.

     Because carding did seem so easy, most people did take at least one crack
at it.  Generally, the myth on the street was that if you don't get too
greedy, and don't use the same drop address more than once, you could get away
with it forever.   But even in my increasingly warped mind, it still seemed a
bit hard to justify, so I just stopped trying to justify it.  I succeeded in
carding a $600 1.5 megabyte RAM upgrade for the Commodore Amiga (I was the
proud new owner of an Amiga 500 computer, and RAM was ridiculously high during
this period due to a fire at a semiconductor plant in Japan) from some company
in California, which had eventually brought down some heat on my neighborhood,
in addition to some clothes from Eddie Bauer and some jewelry.  In retrospect,
I believe this was the start of my incurring some seriously bad karma, which
eventually culminated in my arrest which was to occur only about a year and a
half later.  However, the feeling of getting away with something like that - a
true high-tech crime - was incredibly thrilling for a young teenager still in
Junior High school.  Mostly, credit card numbers were just fun to have lying
around, and could be a source of endless amusement.

     Case in point: party lines and phone sex lines.  Phone sex lines, in this
age of virginity, were not taken seriously at all, but what better fun than to
call an 800 sex line with someone else's credit card and harass the poor woman
on the other end?  And how about putting the local Pizza Hut on a three-way
call with some woman you've just requested to simulate giving a blow job?  At
a friend's request, I left the number of a mutual acquaintance who had been
pissing us off lately on a gay phone sex line, which resulted in him getting
dozens of solicitations for gay phone sex over a several day period.  And
everyone I knew in the scene was doing all of these things as a matter of
course.  That wasn't even the start of the possible revenge that could be
extracted by a knowledgeable hacker: some of the elite had access to local
LMOS systems, and were able to forward phone calls from whatever source they
wanted to your line if you pissed them off bad enough.  Hackers with LMOS
access were able to turn on the call waiting on the phone line of some sysop
they didn't like, making his board disrupted every time someone else tried
calling in.  One hacker we knew, Fry Guy, made a bet that he could make a
payphone local to my friend's house into a regular phone (i.e., not needing a
quarter to dial out) and succeeded in doing it within several days.  I'm sure
there were no small number of public high school teachers that ended up
getting a dozen toilet seats in the mail from Sears after failing a certain
apathetic computer enthusiast in one of their classes.

     There were kids who were engaged in outright ripoffs and serious fraud -
kids that inspired serious investigation from the likes of the FBI and Secret
Service.  The most intense example I remember is a Florida hacker named
Maximum Overdrive who had succeeded in his local Western Union to the tune of
at least fifty thousand dollars.  Not only could he get the credit card
numbers of the people whom he was wiring "from", when Western Union decided to
verify by calling their home address he could forward the victim's number to
one he specified and pretend to be the person wiring the money.  It was during
this stage in my hacking career when I believe my head started to get a little
concerned again.  I was beginning to have ethical issues with the wholesale
rip-off of corporations.  Even though I already had an inkling of the American
corporate power structure and how the "insurance companies just pay for it
all", I was still not comfortable associating with individuals who seemed to
have little desire other than to scam as much free money and computer hardware
as they could possibly get.  This sets the stage for what Lord Digital was
talking about in his sequel to "Fall Of The Modem World" - the stage when the
power you have starts to get out of hand.  When you're engaging in high-tech
grand larceny as a fifteen or sixteen year old, you don't learn the boundaries
that other kids your age have to learn.  You just blow through every barrier
that's presented to you and when that's coupled with fragile adolescent egos,
some serious emotional and mental maladjustment can be the result.

     There was another hacker called The Video Vindicator that I also talked
with a few times (we'd struck up a mutual interest in electronic music - I
remember him playing the old techno track "Spice" by Eon to me over the
telephone.)  The Video Vindicator was an admitted techno-vandal, who liked to
crash every system that he broke into.  He ran a pretty good board in Northern
California called Shadows Of Iga and was by all accounts, an extremely
intelligent kid.  But the last I heard of him, he got out of California Youth
Authority at age 19, stole a car, managed to evade jail at least once, and was
living "on the run", writing text files about how to fence stole jewelry,
break into houses, and the like.  I had the typical angst-ridden teenage
experiences shoplifting and engaging in burglary and generally did not like
them - I didn't seem to have the stomach or nerve to engage in serious crime,
but in the adrenaline and testosterone-riddled time, it was easy to see how
people were getting pressured into doing more extreme acts by the day.  These
were kids who knew how to encrypt stolen credit cards - straight up Cyberpunk
Mafia type of shit.  These were kids writing programs that would decipher the
mathematical algorithms that corporations would use to generate credit card
and calling card numbers, just for fun.

     It seemed like the scene was starting to get a bit sketchier all around.
In addition to knowing aforementioned fledgling Mafia members, it seemed like
all sorts of people were getting busted for carding and phone fraud.  A local
user to me had gotten busted by 950-1001, a fate that only escaped me because
of my temporary moratorium I'd placed on scanning for phone codes from my
house.  I'd ended up taking all of my notes and disks with sensitive
information on them over to a friend's house, afraid that I was the next one.
But of course it never came, and another vow to stop what I was doing was left
unfulfilled.  At the end of the day, I was at a point where the scene had
consumed my life and none of us could do _anything_ else.  Fledgling interests
in sports and academics had long been discarded in favor of complete devotion
to the hacker subculture, and I had little desire to go back.  I was branded
as the classic "bright but an underachiever" role in school, something I knew
that all of my peers had also experienced.  Everything in my life now embraced
this one-dimensional anti-authoritarian view, but despite my best intentions,
everything always seemed to confirm the worst of what I had suspected.  Kids
at my school were generally mean, and I had already witnessed all of the
typical detritus of the suburban wasteland I lived in; parties where there
were gang-bangs, 15 year old kids smoking weed, drinking Old Milwaukee, and
sniffing cocaine.  It didn't offer much appeal.  But it didn't matter, because
in this scene, you truly had a purpose and you truly were someone important.
And it wasn't related to ANYTHING that was going on in the "real world".  You
just couldn't expect anyone to go back to the real world after being a member
of the hacker subculture.  It seemed like you were a member of this secret
fraternity, with all of the power (at least in your own mind) and crazy
aliases and code words out of what seemed like a comic book adventure.

     "I'm not crazy!  You're the one that's crazy!" -Suicidal Tendencies in
"Institutionalized"

     As one could imagine, most hackers didn't exactly have the most
fulfilling home and personal lives, and I was no exception.  I was threatened
at home with being sent to a Christian school if I didn't clean up my act,
which never materialized into anything but empty threats.   I felt constantly
at odds with my parents, who thought I was slipping into some sort of weird
drugged Satanic cult or something, perhaps due to the long hair and obscure
musical taste I'd cultivated.  Nothing could have been further from the truth;
I was actually ridiculously drug-free, having only been drunk one time in my
life.  I had no desire to smoke weed or get drunk like a lot of the other kids
I knew at school were doing.  I was mostly angry, and most of my non-computer
time consisted of listening to the likes of hardcore punk like Black Flag or
Minor Threat.

     Adults might have wanted you to just get your head out of your ass, but
everything in your life reinforced the following associations: "Real World" =
boring, angry, stupid, and pointless.  "Hacker World" = happy, exciting, where
your friends were.  School was something to be slept through if you actually
had no choice but to go, which would then be followed by another night of
all-night teleconferences and the latest scene gossip.  Most importantly, it
was FUN.  You knew you were doing things that no one else knew how to do.  And
you were learning more every day.  I spent endless hours on the phone every
day. 

     However, the handwriting on the wall seemed to be getting more and more
pronounced.  It had started to become pretty obvious to those in the know that
it wasn't really safe to scan or use stolen calling card numbers from your
house at all anymore, as people seemed to be going down for that left and
right.  (Getting busted for phone codes is a notoriously lame thing to get
caught for anyway.)  Like it or not, even the "elite" hackers who disdained
the "kodez kidz" needed to make free phone calls.  New technologies like ANI
and Caller ID threatened to make the activities of wardialing and scanning,
long staples of the hacking scene, obsolete overnight.  A hacker named Lorax
and his brother in Michigan had gotten nailed simply for scanning the 800
prefix for carrier, along with them stupidly leaving a message for the owner
of a hacked HP3000 to "please give us a call if you want help with your
security.  He called them, all right.

     It was clear that the whole scene had been based on this ephemeral
convergence of (1) naive computer security; (2) the availability of
telecommunications equipment on the mass market and (3) a very libertarian
culture of computer users who disliked governments and regulations of any
sort.  It was no longer acceptable to talk about pirated software on most
BBSes like it had been during the nascent scene in the early 1980's period.
But I was still having a good time, and was starting to get to the point where
I was a pretty good hacker.  I had probably only cracked into fifty systems in
my life, but had learned quite a bit doing it.  And the vague group I knew,
PhaZeTech, had a system called Colonial that was essentially taken over by the
group, which served as a fertile UNIX learning ground.  Perhaps the system
administrators viewed us as sort of a helpful ant colony and never kicked us
off, as we ended up doing a bit to maintain the system.  There was no reason
to think it would stop anytime in the near future, as I'd stopped scanning for
codes from my house some time in the past.

     But then another "convergence" came back to kick my ass.  I'd recently
been sent an Apple Cat modem by a user named Zippo Pinhead on the good-faith
notion I'd pay him $30 for it, which I never did.  (I really _did_ mean to,
Bob, but I was a broke-ass 16 year old and just never got around to it, and
you didn't really seem to care anyway.)  I'd always wanted the legendary
Apple-Cat, due to its ability to mimic any tone, as well as scan for codes at
least twice as fast as any Hayes modem.  The temptation to let it scan for
codes was just too much, and in addition, the bad karma from not paying for it
was also a factor.  Despite my better judgment, I was starting to get REALLY
sloppy.

     My sloppiness ended up being epitomized by another really stupid-ass
mistake; leaving my real name and phone number on a board in Arizona called
The Dark Side run by a user named The Dictator who as it turned out was
running a sting operation for the Secret Service in exchange for some computer
hardware.  (To this date, I hope The Dictator is burning in hell, and I hope
your life is a complete piece of shit, you traitorous loser.  How cool is that
Amiga hardware you got now, seeing as how you exchanged your soul for it,
motherfucker?)  But anyway... I'd seen The Dictator around, as he was calling
virtually every board in existence and advertising his BBS, so I blindly left
my number on his system.  Naturally, I was immediately corroborated with the
Dark Sorcerer who'd been seen around, probably posting some hacked VAX
(incidentally, John Lee, aka Corrupt, ruined a hacked VAX I posted at 215 379,
pw BACKUP/BACKUP, that I had gotten into by trying to run some BBS on it, and
this guy ended up on the cover of Wired Magazine.  Weird when people you knew
through the scene started becoming minor cause celebres in the nascent
wannabe-Cyberpunk type scene.)  This resulted in a DNR (Dialed Number
Recorder) placed on my line around December of 1989, and of course I was using
my new Apple-Cat to scan for codes during that time.  I could kick myself for
days just thinking about how stupid all of this was.

     The climax came on January 11, 1990, when the following showed up at my
house: Secret Service agents, local cops, and US West phone security guys.
And right before my parents were going to church for their bell choir
practice.  Ugh.  Not exactly my finest hour.  And yes kids, they do play "good
cop, bad cop" just like in the movies.  It was somewhat comical, but I felt
proud that at least I didn't start bawling or narcing out everyone I had ever
known, as a lot of others were prone to do (guess my nerves had been toughened
up somewhat.)  The charges against me ended up being somewhat impressive, as
I'd been using multiple 950 services (oops) all of which were small companies
anxious to prosecute me, in addition to having some floppies on them with
about seven hundred credit cards in the form of CBI buffers (double oops) as
well as suspicion I'd been involved in a couple of local credit-card
shenanigans (which never materialized into real charges.)  To make matters
worse, they wanted to confiscate the Apple computer, which I had actually done
all of the scanning on, which my little sister was currently writing a huge
paper on.  We had to convince them to take my Amiga instead.  I ended up
having to go down to the police station, taking a mug shot, and spending a
couple of nights in the Zebulon Pike Youth Detention Facility, shooting hoops
and wondering what was going to happen to me.

     The end result:  Most of the charges got dropped, and I had to do fifty
hours' community service, as well as pay about $3500 in restitution.  Luckily,
I ended up doing my "community service" for my youth minister, an ex-rock and
roller who took pride in the fact that he just let me read all of the books in
his office (my first exposure to Hunter S. Thompson, by the way.)  It was a
small compensation, but at least I didn't have to load furniture at Goodwill
every weekend for two months like a lot of other people I knew who got in
trouble. And my probation officer thought I was the greatest novelty - here he
was dealing with kids who were stealing cars and selling weed, and he gets
this gangly "hacker" out of nowhere.

     I was pretty much out of the scene immediately, sans a few friends.  But
it didn't much matter, as the scene was quickly coming to an end anyway.  The
Operation Sun Devil busts in early-mid 1990 effectively killed off the
vestiges of the 1980's hacker scene, as most of the "elite" members of the
Legion of Doom and MOD had been snared in this raid.  Probably almost half of
the people I had known had gotten busted, had retired, or were simply getting
older, getting cars and going to college.  There I was, sixteen years old, yet
the disappointment was something to this day I feel like only extremely old
people feel; like how it must feel when half of your friends are dead.  I did
manage to pull off a few shenanigans after getting my computer back (my
ever-unaware parents let me continue to use the computer periodically, for
"school work" of course).  I hacked into our local Water Supply Department VAX
and gave away the account some time later, which strangely resulted in an
article in the local paper a month later about how the Water Supply Department
needed a new computer, with my account that had been active forever strangely
cancelled.  I got the occasional Alliance call from some old people I knew,
and I quickly found I had little in common with most of them.  It seemed like
most were either drifting off into computer-science major irrelevance, or were
still able to pull off some capers due to non-busted status.  But no one
seemed to be quite as crazy as they were even a year ago, as security was
getting better and better and "hacking" was starting to just mean hacking
voice mail systems.  (Although the Tymnet heyday was still to come.  Does
anyone else remember that cheezy chat system "QSD"?)

     Computers seemed to lose their lustre.  All of a sudden I had to be
normal, go to parties and try to fit in somewhat.  The disappointment at not
being a part of the scene any more was quite a bit to bear.  I still had some
calling cards, CBI accounts, and a few token relics of the hacker era in order
to amuse my "real world" friends, mostly.  But by and large, everything was
gone.  Before I knew it, a lot of the people I had known were in college, and
some of them had dropped out to become professional programmers at age 19 or
so, already knowing way more than most of their professors.  After a year or
so of re-adjustment, I attained some sort of normalcy.  I used LSD
extensively, and later Ecstasy and ketamine.  Drugs were sort of an effort to
get that "peak feeling" that I used to get, and were incredibly entertaining
and insightful, although they lacked the long-term intellectual stimulation
that computers were able to provide, eventually becoming somewhat banal in
their own right.  But that, as they say, is a different story.

     This brings me to the end of this file: if you made it this far, how
come?  And where are the rest of the people I used to know in that scene now?
All grown up, I'd imagine.  The ones who didn't get busted probably got their
PhD's and didn't stray too far from the Republican Party.  But the ones who
were a little more worldly, what happened?  Was it a period of intense
self-scrutiny, reading thousands of books, spending endless hours of
self-reflection... and was intellectual curiosity what that scene was all
about?

    .-.                             _   _                             .-.
   /   \           .-.             ((___))             .-.           /   \
  /.ooM \         /   \       .-.  [ x x ]  .-.       /   \         /.ooM \
-/-------\-------/-----\-----/---\--\   /--/---\-----/-----\-------/-------\-
/ fun4us  \     /       \   /     `-(' ')-'     \   /       \     / nofun4u \
           \   /         `-'         (U)         `-'         \   /
            `-'              the original e-zine              `-'    _
      Oooo                   - today, tomorrow -                    / )   __
 /)(\ (   \                        FOREVER                         /  (  /  \
 \__/  )  /  Copyright (c) 2004 cDc communications and the author. \   ) \)(/
       (_/     CULT OF THE DEAD COW is a registered trademark of    oooO
         cDc communications, 1369 Madison Ave. #423, NY, NY 10128, USA    _
  oooO               All rights left.  Edited by G. Ratte'.         __   ( \
 /   ) /)(\                                                        /  \  )  \
 \  (  \__/       Save yourself!  Go outside!  Do something!       \)(/ (   /
  \_)                     xXx   BOW to the COW   xXx                    Oooo