Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Books Apple

Captain Crunch (and Steve Wozniak) Write New Book: 'Beyond the Little Blue Box' (kickstarter.com) 42

Slashdot reader blottsie shares a new article about the legendary Captain Crunch -- which includes Steve Wozniak's memory that Steve Jobs "started avoiding Crunch...afraid that it would put us too close to getting arrested." The Daily Dot reports: Wozniak and Jobs, of course, would go on to found the most successful tech company in the world. But Draper is far from being just an important footnote in Apple's history. He's the original hacking prankster, a purist driven by curiosity and craftsmanship, with a lifetime of exploits that have pushed technological and legal boundaries. And according to Jobs, in a rare 1994 interview, without him there wouldn't have been Apple. Now, for the first time, Draper is looking to publish his story with Beyond the Little Blue Box, an autobiography for which he's about to launch a Kickstarter campaign...

[H]e anonymously called in a national emergency directly to a furious President Richard Nixon on the Oval Office phone line, reporting that the West Coast had run out of toilet paper. He also claims he once bypassed the Iron Curtain to call Moscow in the Soviet Union. There's a playful mischief about him, but he's serious when it comes to his craft, relaying technical, intricate details about the systems he worked to hack... For many tinkering young coders and internet activists, Draper is still considered a folk hero, one whose apolitical infatuation with complex systems and compulsion to expose their limits made him a target -- especially where that curiosity crossed with corporate interests.

"Experiences like that taught us the power of ideas," Steve Jobs said in a 1994 interview. "The power of understanding that if you could build this box, you could control hundreds of billions of dollars around the world, that's a powerful thing." Steve Wozniak -- who writes the book's foreword -- remembers how Jobs ended that interview. "Steve Jobs said -- and I agree -- that without the blue box there might never have been an Apple."

Draper's Kickstarter campaign includes a "2600 Club" Bronze level, while people who pledge over $199 will receive an actual blue anonabox. And there's also a $10,000 "Super Phreak" level which includes a "VIP one-to-one meeting" with 74-year-old John Draper himself.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Captain Crunch (and Steve Wozniak) Write New Book: 'Beyond the Little Blue Box'

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dear blottsie, please try to make your Slashvertisement a little less obvious next time.

  • This sounds pretty cool and all in a "1998 and Slashdot is great" kind of way. But what the fuck does any of this have to do with Apple in 2017?
    • This sounds pretty cool and all in a "1998 and Slashdot is great" kind of way. But what the fuck does any of this have to do with Apple in 2017?

      Who said it had anything to do with Apple in 2017? Well...

      according to Jobs, in a rare 1994 interview, without him there wouldn't have been Apple.

      So, according to Jobs, it has everything to do with Apple in 2017... Think about it.

      I don't know that Apple wouldn't be around or be around in a different form or not, I suspect that Jobs overstated the importance of Sir Crunch, but I wasn't involved so what do I know...

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@worf . n et> on Sunday October 29, 2017 @04:04AM (#55452109)

        I don't know that Apple wouldn't be around or be around in a different form or not, I suspect that Jobs overstated the importance of Sir Crunch, but I wasn't involved so what do I know...

        Not really.

        Before the Esquire article "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" came out, blue boxes were really just known among phreaks. When the article came out, it exploded.

        Jobs read the article, and got Woz to design a digital blue box. And sell it. (Woz the engineer, Jobs the salesman). This was all prior to Apple. Woz's blue box was considered among many to be the finest - it didn't require tuning (most blue boxes were using analog contraptions and part tolerances weren't good, so many had tuning functions to trim the frequencies in)(, and it's digital (or rather, using digital ICs and not computerized) made for a very accurate box.

        But this was officially the first Jobs+Woz collaboration, Woz made them, Jobs sold them, and they made decent coin from it. Enough that Jobs decided to start Apple with Woz.

        Chances are, Jobs and Woz would've started Apple anyways (they've worked together before and were good friends), but Draper and his blue box got them to actually make money selling a product.and proved that Jobs and Woz could together work and make money.

        Fun fact - every blue box came with a warranty from Woz - in the form of a paper slip inside that guaranteed Woz will fix anything that broke, valid as long as the slip was there. Woz removed the slip from warranty serviced boxes, of course. And those boxes with the slip inside them are worth some major money today. And Woz has stated that yes, he'll still honor the warranty.

        Final anecdote - Woz and Jobs were stranded after Woz's VW bus broke down. They went to the nearest phone booth and was trying to call for assistance (using their blue box, of course, they barely had money for the phone call), when cops came around. They took the box, and asked what it was. Woz said it was a music box, you push buttons and it makes sounds. Cop responds it needs tuning, and that someone named Moog already created one a few years earlier. (Yes, the original Moog synthesizer)

        Now, I don't know if Draper, Jobs and Woz actually knew of each other's existence at the time - Jobs read the article and convinced Woz to make the box.

        Personally, I'm fascinated by this stuff.

  • Captain Crunch's story can be found in "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" [amazon.com] by Steven Levy.

  • by Barny ( 103770 ) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Saturday October 28, 2017 @11:14PM (#55451747) Journal

    John Draper A.K.A. Captain Crunch

    Was it too much to ask for that the (slashdot) story—just once—mention the guy's actual name? Yes.

    Heck, the source's title uses his actual name.

  • We were both in the Palo Alto Macintosh developers user group. I was a Stanford student at the time. I dont remember anything out of the ordinary about hime other than his blue-box fame
  • Especially one where "the writing is done and most of the editing". Are conventional publishers not interested? Or is this just a means of coaxing a better deal out of publishers?

    I understand crowd funding for projects to expensive to self fund yet too small for conventional venture capital. But conventional book publishing seems to have this covered. Writers write. Publishers publish and sometimes providers editors and advance payment to writers. Is there reason to believe this book would not be publ

    • by thomst ( 1640045 ) on Sunday October 29, 2017 @12:31AM (#55451859) Homepage

      erice inquired:

      Especially one where "the writing is done and most of the editing". Are conventional publishers not interested? Or is this just a means of coaxing a better deal out of publishers?

      I understand crowd funding for projects to expensive to self fund yet too small for conventional venture capital. But conventional book publishing seems to have this covered. Writers write. Publishers publish and sometimes providers editors and advance payment to writers. Is there reason to believe this book would not be published were it not for the kickstarter campaign?

      Here's the thing most people don't realize about the publishing industry: unless you're already a bestselling author, traditional publishing companies don't make even a token effort to promote your book. Yes. that's a sillly strategy, but it's pretty much the default for the Big Six and their eleventy-seven scrillion imprints. They don't advertise, other than to list your title in their catalogue, they don't send marketing material to radio and tv talk shows, they don't, in fact, do dick to help you sell your book. They don't even send copies to reviewers, unless those reviewers specifically request them.

      Which means it's up to you, the author, to do all the marketing and advertising for your book.

      You're the one who has to call tv and radio shows to pitch them on having you on as a guest. You're the one who has to contact reviewers and try to persuade them to read your book - and you'll have to send them a copy that you bought with your own money, if they agree to do so. If you want print or radio ads, or posters, or standees, or tchotkes like bookmarks, pens, coffee mugs, and the like to promote your book, you get to hire a designer, pay to have them printed, and hand them out yourself. You get to hustle bookstores and libraries to let you give readings and hold booksignings. All that stuff is on you, and if there are expenses involved, they come out of your pocket.

      Basically, if you got a million-dollar advance, then your publisher will pull out all the promotional stops. But if you're just another face in the authorial crowd, then marketing and promoting your book is YOUR problem.

      And that, dear erice, is why a book that's already written and in the process of being edited needs a Kickstarter campaign ...

    • Raising money is only one reason to Kickstart. The other reason is to measure interest, and decide if a project is worthwhile. I worked on a project that had been Kickstarted. ~50 people chipped in to pre-buy. When the project was complete, ~5000 units were sold. I don't know if that 100-factor multiplier is typical, but it seems reasonable. So if you need to sell 10000 units to cover NRE, and you are unable to get 100 people to pre-buy, then perhaps you should cancel the project.

  • ”Captain Crunch (and Steve Wozniak) Write New Book: 'Beyond the Little Blue Box'”

    I didn’t realize it was so easy to get author credit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a good read on phone phreaking history and culture read Exploding the Phone [amazon.com]. The forward is written by Woz.

  • by SIGBUS ( 8236 ) on Sunday October 29, 2017 @08:50AM (#55452713) Homepage

    The Evan Doorbell tapes [evan-doorbell.com] offer quite a treasure trove of stories, techniques, and sounds from those days.

    The Esquire article probably did more harm to phreaking than anything else, IMO. Captain Crunch made a bold claim that three phreakers with blue boxes could take down the Bell System by stacking connections. Among the Evan Doorbell tapes, there are some examples of how stacking worked, and its limitations. Only a few two-wire tandem switches were actually stackable; the four-wire switches that handled the lion's share of long-distance traffic were not. Also, each extra link added also increased the noise floor to the point that signalling tones could only go so far. Evan Doorbell, in his own discussion of stacking, said that about 24 links or so was the most he could count on any of his tapes of stacks.

    Crunch's hypothetical "three phreakers" might have been able to busy out a few minor trunk groups, but take down the Bell System? Not likely. Nonetheless, claims like that had to light a fire under the security department's butts.

    Though it didn't come out until decades later, AT&T was no stranger to mass surveillance; their Project Greenstar [cryptome.org] system, deployed in 1964, which was meant to catch phreakers committing toll fraud. It monitored random trunks for out-of-place occurrences of 2600 Hz, and would then start recording the call in question. Ma Bell was concerned enough about its legality that it was kept top secret and never mentioned in phone fraud trials.

    • Yeah, Evan and Bill Acker had a discussion on one of the tapes where they talk about how that little bit of hyperbole really translates into like two phreaks with maybe four lines between them or so being able to busy out a trunk group (for which there are alternate routings). I think it was a postscript to the introduction to tandem stacking but I'm not quite sure.

      Semi-related: Evan recently resumed publishing his How I Became a Phone Phreak series over at evan-doorbell.com.

  • The cold war's unreachable countries list was just a dialing restriction placed on Americans really. You could seize an overseas trunk, MF into Paris, grab an outgoing trunk there and tone straight into Moscow.

    I did it once to a random number and had a hilarious 10 minute 'conversation' with a confused Muscovite who knew only a few English words. He figured out that I was repeating some of his words, understood the English word 'American' and laughed, we parroted each other for awhile in good humo

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"

Working...