I Was a Teenage Hacker

@Philip and what’s wrong with that? Nothing is wrong with a little nostalgia.

I think similar situations happened to a lot of us. The “scared straight” technique works quite effectively. lol

Yeah, we had a lot of BBSs in Missouri for some reason. And of course the great COIN network allowed free vt100 access to the Internet circa 1990 (Gopher, FTP, and telnet! Http not yet invented).

Some times I miss those days, if only for the 16-color ANSI graphics…

@philip Jeeze how old are you 18 going on 64 and 3/4.

I recall one one my collegues who worked at BT with me had been busted for phreaking when younger. Aprently one day a senior guy for our feared security deivisions happend to bup into him at teh office and almost had a fit - our senior management told then to F off.

Oh and the ex phreak was the guy to goto when I had to help a FSTE 100 customer out by cracking some passwords that they had lost

I hit the tail end of the BBS times but they were still around when I started hacking. I wasn’t into software as much as knowledge in general. I was so into this amazing thing called UNIX. Operating systems of large companies was a huge driving force for me to get online and to pull down the latest 2600 or Phrack magazines.

I had a dot matrix printer one summer and started printing everything I could find out of my 8088. My room was littered with code, UNIX command lists, phone number databases, credit and calling cards.

I was up late war dialing 800 numbers for access to modem banks I could use to connect long distances to other BBSes. I had heard that major universities still had them up but that the numbers would change, whether that was true or not, I had found a bunch of 800 numbers with modems attached. I awoke one morning to find a number with PCAnywhere attached to a system that was wide open. It only took about 5 minutes to realize it was a car dealership in Idaho or something. I don’t know if another hacker or salesman had left this open but I spent 2 more hours looking around, finding nothing of importance with a lame DOS prompt.

One day my mother got a call from some crazy lady saying that a long distance call was charged to their business and that someone had charged 2 hours of time. Sticking up for me, like she did, my mom told the lady off and hung up. My mom then proceeded to go completely insane on me. She said cops were going to come and that I was screwed. I said “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT” and dizzy, proceeded into my locked room where I started tearing up all the pieces of printed dot matrix paper in a manic fashion. I knew I was turning 18 soon and that laws would apply. I never felt so terrified in my life.

Nothing ever happened, and of course that wasn’t the end of my hacking adventures, but the story sounded really similar so I had to share. :slight_smile:

Ah, good memories. I wasn’t into the calling card stuff so much. But I was heavily involved in the BBS era. I remember my computer desk littered with dot matrix printouts of BBS numbers and other printouts of game activation codes…until neverlock came out. Haven’t heard the term warez in years. Call waiting was evil until I found out about *70. Brings back memories of tools like Norton Utilities 6, Procomm/telix/telemate, xtree gold, TheDraw. Heck, even debug. The boards I connected to were running Wildcat(yuck), WWIV, Telegard, PCBoard… The sound of my 2400 modem connecting was almost magical… Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Those were great times!

Thanks for the story! Takes me back. Your story is very familiar. If you have not yet seen it -


The most I did was dial up to the library’s BBS to renew a book. Your story is much more interesting.

I feel fortunate to have cut my teeth on an Apple ][ then an Amiga in the late 70’s and 80’s. I remember hanging around the local Apple dealer and being the only customer (and one without any money) in the store. Going to the Apple store these days is still a bit surreal because of my childhood experiences.

I often wonder where all the digital hoodlums who I hung around with in the 80’s ended up. Aside from a few locals, I have no idea where all the other aliases went except for Cyborg and I’m glad for that.

Protovision, I have you now…

So… Have you learnt how to access and use a woman?

My take-away from this story is that I’m old because that era was a simpler, gentler time. The biggest crime in hacking was generally the phreaking side of things by using services without paying for them and hacking was mostly just snooping around systems without permission.

Today, hacking is a significant crime that usually involves stolen credit cards or bringing down massive systems and causing real damage.

Beautiful story! You brought back old memories! I was fortunate to only experience the end of the BBS days, but I experienced the beginning of the new FTP Top Site scene era.

So much coding was involved creating a secured, reliable, fast, customizable, unique FTP server (glftpd).

So much coding was involved to creating automated apps in C to FXP stuff from one server (in one country) to another server (in some other country) with smart algorithms to decide the most efficient routing.

So much coding was involved creating pre apps, so each courier could smartly distinguish between a fake and a real release, as well figuring out smartly what type of release it is and informs all courier team it is time to FXP.

So much research and coding was involved developing cracking tools to automatically identify and crack software once the holy grail (cracking algorithm) was solved.

So much management to ensure elite people are invited, so hard to get in, banning those that sell, leak, buy. Banning those that release to torrents/newsgroups/fxp sites/colo sites. Hardcore encryption, SSL/blowfish text/Protected passwords/Identity/private networks/multiple routed bncs. Get the best hardware suppliers, at that time getting 1TB was unique since every house hold had only 40gb. People go crazy and raid multiple machines. Crazy bandwidth suppliers, protecting the box underground etc.

I was a kid, without being exposed to the elite top site scene, I wouldn’t have become a Software Engineer, or have my love and passion in this industry. I realized what I did wasn’t a good thing, and I was extremely addicted to it. Cops knocked on my door, parents were not fond, bad grades at school, so at the end, I woke up and realized that I can’t place that on my resume :slight_smile: So I ended up switching to Software Engineering during my first year, and contribute to Open Source software instead which I am still doing today, cause I love it!

Ah, the days of BBSes. I wrote my own BBS software and ran it on my C64 back in the day. Sadly, in 1988 I wasn’t in high school, I was 26 years old, had my degree, and was two years into my career. Now I feel really old.

Thanks for sharing this great story - I thoroughly loved it!
Same age, same year, except in south NJ and with a C64. I remember the shock of how my little 300 baud Hess modem and those late nights calls to modems who-knows-where did not equal warez riches, but a $600 phone bill. Working at Pep-Boys paid that off. There were plenty of local BBSs, and there was a way to get to command prompt on certain Apple sites, whereby one ‘could’ format the disk - but that was never my thing. Live and let live in the wild BBS frontier was my motto.

Many great memories of the BBS days. I’ve always considered WWIV’s source code distribution my first step into what is now considered Open Source. For a $25 registration fee Wayne Bell would send you the WWIV source code on a disk. That spawned a community of people distributing mods for WWIV. Sure, you had to recompile after applying each mod, but dang that was fun times. Seeing other people use my WWIV mods and offer feedback and suggestions was amazing.

In regards to the modem speeds of the time, discovering HS/LINK made that experience so much better.

wait a minit, you were the cyborg?

You never had a 9600 baud modem - you probably had a 9600 bps modem. Which was 2400 baud :stuck_out_tongue:


ANSI art still makes me smile. Makes me want to look through my old 5.25" floppies.

fellow 80s hacker/phreaker here, man those were the days!