Phone hackers morph into computer hackers. Steve Wozniack is featured. I never got into phone hacking (I did work on Motorola’s first Electronic Moblie Exchange [EMX] where I learned a lot about tone switching. I was writing a section of the manuals.). However, when the Altair hit the cover of Popular Electronics in January of 1975 I could see my future. I got my hands on an Altair by April and within two years, I was designing computer boards. An I/O board I designed went into the world’s first BBS. I knew Randy Suess and Ward Christianson from the Chicago CACHE Club. No one had a decent I/O board at the time with all the functions needed to really control things. Timers, Signaling chips (UARTS), and Control lines. I had it all plus RAM and EPROM sockets. The UART I used was peculiar because you couldn’t be sure a software reset always reset the chip. The guys were having that problem and I showed them how to fix it (use one of the control lines to control the hardware reset).
Well I knew hardware and software. Their idea for a BBS? Couldn’t see a future in it. Shows you how much I knew. I did log on to their BBS within a year of when it went up and many many times after that until they finally went off line.
We exchanged programs with the BBS using the Xmodem program that Ward designed. It was one of the things that made it possible for people to share compiled programs. Text files were easy to begin with. Then came FIDO net. A network of BBSs that exchanged text files from about 1 AM to 3 AM in the morning so you could have discussion groups. You uploaded your replies and any one on the BBS could immediately comment and you could have nationwide conversations if you could stand a couple of days delay. I used to be up at 3 AM (hackers hours) to be the first to log on and get the lastest messages. What fun!. Then the internet got going and usenet was popular because it was BBS style but comments got posted instantly. And now blogs. Man I love this stuff!
BTW I first got on the internet around Christmas of ’95. Back then there were a number of programs you had to integrate to get it to work. Something called Winsock was a notorious pain. My #1 son and I worked around the clock for 3 days getting it all sorted out. He worked while I slept and vice versa. With some overlap time. More fun.