I Was a Teenage Hacker

Twenty-four years ago today, I had a very bad day.

On August 8, 1988, I was a senior in high school. I was working my after school and weekend job at Safeway as a cashier, when the store manager suddenly walked over and said I better stop ringing up customers and talk to my mother on the store phone right now. Mom told me to come home immediately because, well, there were police at the front door asking for me with some legal papers in hand.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/08/i-was-a-teenage-hacker.html


This is a very nice story and a great reminder of “better”(?) times. Thanks for sharing. And I’m happy to see, that you kept being a “smart kid” and stayed out of trouble :wink:


Loved reading the article :slight_smile:

Having software you wrote out there and used by a lot of people is a great feeling, I’m addicted to that too. I currently have an online service that 1000+ people use daily (which is also a bit naughty :stuck_out_tongue: (just google my name [nick kusters])), and two tools I wrote and uploaded to The Priate bay a long time ago, that got 100.000+ users each (check tag NKCSS).

who, as I recall, was missing a hand

And that’s why you don’t hack computers.

I know the feeling… I wrote a compiler that converts a language i created into brainfuck code, and then put it on google code. I was ecstatic when one day I received an email from some guy asking for help on it

Usually your vignettes are somewhat useful and or informative. But this time you sound like one of two old ladies on a park bench talking about their hip replacements.

I had a similar “bad day” in 1993. Few years after you sounds like, but the situation was the same. Looking for free phone calls to get into long distance bbs’s. By then we were trolling for system75s, and using wardialers with custom scripts to try default passwords in unix & vms systems. Was a different time…glad it happened before I was 18!

wow! loved you story. :slight_smile:

I am oddly turned on by this.

sigh … I am jealous of your programming endevours as a young man, I am late into programming (was 25 years old when I started) and always wonder how much better at programming I would be if I started as a young teenager. I didn’t go to uni so I’ve had to learn the fundamentals myself and I still feel like I’m playing catch up. Hats off to you sir! Very good reads.

Does anyone actually even worry about how much voice calls cost any more, to anywhere in the world?

People in New Zealand still prefer txt to calls, because calls are too expensive. They txt even while driving a car.

Ahhh. remind me of old days. Thumbs up!

Great post.

It reminded me of how i felt when i first experienced the “ooooooooh” sensation of my first flat-rate dialup connection after six months of my father yelling at me when he saw the phone bills, and of how i felt when i knew someone was actually using software i wrote (and someone was actually willing to contribute to some opensource stuff i did).

Awesome feelings, both of them.

Oh dear. I didn’t actually get to court but I was banned from the university VAX in '93. Twice. Good times. I was forced to use the small Unix machines after. Best thing ever to happen to me :stuck_out_tongue:

I see you talking about Virginia and Chesterfield County. This is where I grew up as well. What high school did you go to? If this is an inappropriate place to ask this let me know.

Great story Jeff - oh the memories of Compuserv. :slight_smile:

Dude. Your lawyer was a pirate too! y’know… missing hand…

@Charlieandrews Cwa - A Chesterfield guy here as well. Meadowbrook High School if your familiar. Lived just off Hopkins road.

As a former Apple ][e BBS junkie in the 80s I just wanted to say thanks for posting this story. We all pretty much had to game the long distance providers back in the day and had tons of fun with our WarGames dialers and AppleCat modems. It was against the law yeah, but a great formative experience as a youngster.

Can you imagine how much it costed calling the USA BBSs from Italy!?

But using those I learned how to build TSR programs in DOS (who does remember what they were about?) and then bought my first TSR for DOS APIs, which “arrived” from the States on a 5 1/4’’ disk along with the user manual and made me super-happy :slight_smile: