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

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Grove Press, 2013 - History - 431 pages
5 Reviews
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 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 AT&T’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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - timtom - LibraryThing

This book is a quite detailed history of the rise of phone phreaking from the early 50s until the dawn of the 80s, with an entertaining mix of anecdotal, historical and technical details. Phone ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - delphica - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

Contents

Fine artS 13
13
birth oF a Playground
14
Cat and Canary
29
the largeSt maChine in the world
41
blue box
51
Some PeoPle ColleCt StamPS
64
headaChe
85
blue box bookieS
98
Pranks
218
The sTory of a War
230
a LiTTLe BiT sTuPid
249
sniTch
262
crunched
276
TWiLighT
296
nighTfaLL
311
ePiLogue
325

little JoJo learnS to whiStle
117
bill aCker learnS to Play the Flute
135
the Phone FreakS oF ameriCa
147
the law oF unintended ConSequenCeS
167
CounterCulture
185
sources and noTes
337
buSted 201
378
acknoWLedgmenTs
407
index
413
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About the author (2013)

Phil Lapsley co-founded two high technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and was a consultant at McKinsey & Company where he advised Fortune 100 companies on strategy. He holds a Master's degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences from U. C. Berkeley and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Lapsley has been interviewed by NPR and the BBC and quoted in The New York Times and Boston Globe on telephone and computer security issues, and is the author of one textbook, sixteen patents, an Internet standard, and many technical articles.

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