In the 1960s and 1970s, electronics fanatics known as “the Phone Phreaks” liked to get long-distance telephone calls without paying for them. The phreakers fooled the telephone companies’ switches to connect free long-distance telephone calls using a technique called “blue boxing.” The blue boxes contained electronic parts reproducing tones that influenced the telephone companies’ switches.
Two of the most famous phreakers of this time were Joe Engressia and John Draper. Joe was a blind man with the gift of being able to reproduce a note he had heard simply by whistling. Using his gift, Joe was arrested twice after he connected free calls for associates by whistling into the phone receiver. After he completed his prison term, Joe was employed by a small Tennessee company as a telephone repairman. John Draper, whose exploits are detailed in this dictionary, was similarly imprisoned for phone phreaking, but unlike Joe Engressia, John eventually used his gifts in a more financially lucrative manner.
Schell, B.H., Dodge, J.L., with S.S. Moutsatsos. The Hacking of America: Who’s Doing It, Why, and How. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002.