Woz and Jobs - the blue box days
Sunday, 12 September 2010

Two video interviews reveal what Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak got up to before they founded Apple - they hacked the phone system. It puts attempts to hack the iPhone into perspective.



Stave Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Woz) started Apple, but before they did that they had a nice line in blue boxes. In case you don't know what a blue box was it used to hack the phone system.

Back in the old days before the personal computer, phone lines were analog and trunk lines and exchanges were controlled by whistling at them. A sequence of audio tones, similar to the touch dial tones, we use today routed calls through the network. If you could create the tones all you needed to do was go to a pay phone (a difficult to describe concept - imagine a box big enough to walk into containing a large wired phone with slots for money) pick up the handset, hold your blue box over the mouth piece and start making beeping sounds. In no time at all you can have a free call across the country, or better yet a call routed thought multiple trunk lines back to the same town. Oh they knew how to have fun in those days...


A Woz-produced blue box

Steve Jobs and Woz were pioneers in blue box technology and this early interest in technology almost certainly led on to what they did in creating the Apple personal computer and a whole industry.

If you want to know more about blue boxes and the story of the early Apple the read our two articles, one about Steve Jobs and the other about Woz before you watch the two new videos of the pair recounting their adventures.

First the Jobsian view:



And now the Wozniak view



Of the two, the I Programmer team feels that there is more realism in the account that Woz provides. It might also place the current attempts to control the iPhone and keep hackers out of its OS into perspective. Steve Jobs - poacher turned game keeper.


Further Reading

Steve Jobs and Apple

Steve Wozniak

The Mac

Nolan Bushnell and Atari


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