John Draper was one of the first well known phone hackers, and the first famous “phone phreak”. He was honorably discharged from the US Air Force in 1968 after a posting in Vietnam, and then became an engineer at the electronics company National Semiconductor.
One day he noticed that some blind kids, named Dennie and Jimmie, were using the whistle from a “Cap’n Crunch” box to make free long distance telephone calls. They glued one of the holes shut in the whistle, and then blew it into the telephone. The modified whistle produced a pure 2600 Hz tone, which was the standard used by telephone electronics to signal that a call was over. When the telephone system heard the whistle it stopped all long distance charges, even though the call continued until one of the parties hung up.
John popularized the use of this whistle, and became known by the hacker handle “Cap’n Crunch”. John became infamous, and was arrested in May, 1972 for illegal use of the telephone company’s system. He received probation, and then was arrested again in 1976, convicted on wire fraud charges, and spent four months in Lompoc Federal Prison in California. Since then, he has held a variety of positions and given interviews on his experiences during the earliest days of long distance hacking.
Resources. The following references provide more information related to John and/or phone phreaking:
- Open Directory — Phreaking
- Phonetips site — includes online tapes of old exploits of John’s
- PhoneLosers.org — Maintains current phone hacking audio files.
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