In 1971, a 16-year-old Steve Jobs read an article about Phone Freaks in Esquire. The renegade group was building devices that could crack phone networks and make free calls. (Back in 1971, a free long-distance call was a big deal.)
Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak showed the article to Jobs and it inspired a search for a mysterious hacker named Captain Crunch (who turned out to be an ex Air Force technician named John Draper). Eventually, Wozniak and Jobs started building “little blue boxes” that could hack phone networks themselves. They raised $6,000 doing it.
Now Slate has republished the original phone freaks article. Its author, Ron Rosenbaum, is a Slate columnist and he’s added his recollections. After 40 years, it still makes interesting reading, especially when paired with Jobs’ New York Times obituary.