It is remarkable what an influential role some of the "phone phreaks" played in creating the hacker culture -- both the mischevious kind of hacking and the tinkering-with-electronics kind that fueled the microcomputer revolution.
Ah, the old days. When I attended Berkeley in the early '70s, I didn't know anyone who actually paid for long-distance calls, which were quite expensive back then. Blue boxes, black boxes, credit cards, phony 3rd party calls, and other techniques were shared ad freely as spare change. The bad part was that the phone companies would always end up calling the people that you called after a couple of months, threatening them with criminal action for committing misprison of a crime. I never heard of anyone getting into actual trouble for it, aside from the hackers who built the boxes.
"Here's my collection of the 10 best docs/movies about hacking."
This reminded me of one the best books written early on about hacking - The Cuckoo's Egg, by Clifford Stoll. I remember picking it up at the library when it first came out not knowing what to expect and then not being able to put it down. A real page turner!
The apple connection is a thin one, but it is there. Woz and jobs learned how to build the phreaking boxes that Jo had helped design. The two built them and sold them, then went on to keep building and selling things together, like the first apple.
Yes. Captain Crunch is probably the most widely known. You can find videos of him on youtube. He got his name from the captain crunch whistle he started with. He found it was the perfect tone to trick the phone into giving him things. Later, he got to where he could just whistle the tones as well.
I'm sure there were lots of people disappearing, but these kids were probably just seen as peculiar annoyances. They weren't tied to any of our "enemies" and they were just screwing with phone relay systems. In the 60s and 70s the FBI had more pressing issues.
Of course, all that changed, and now you can get in serious trouble even for contacting a company to tell them you stumbled onto a security flaw.
My wife casually mentioned that she had used a small phreaking box as a teenager. She was surprised to see me get excited. She had no idea what a pivotal role that piece of hardware had played in our tech/security history.
Yep, that movie did a fantastic job on a few things. They showed that hacking was mostly a social manipulation game as well. A good percentage of the time you never touch a computer. You con people into giving you the information you want instead.