"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Thursday, January 03, 2008

First "Phone Phreaker" Joe Engressia died , August 8th 2007

Josef Carl Engressia, Jr. was born blind in Richmond, Virginia, USA, on May 25th, 1949, he was an early phone phreak. Seeking fun he played with the phone buttons and had learnt by the age of 7 , ( he is said to have had perfect pitch ), that he was able to whistle a perfect 2600 hertz into a telephone, the tone that (then) c0ntrolled long distance phone dialling... and still does in some places eg: most of Africa.

By the late 1960's when the hippy cuture was ramping up, he was at the University of South Florida (he had an IQ of 171 - whatever that means) and showed his pals the joys of free phoning - well it was free to him - he was the instrument they hired at a US$1 a pop.

At the age of 22 his remarkable skills were featured in an Esquire article by Roy Rosenbaum "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" October 1971 (not available online) and "phone phreaking" took off. Savvy tecchies built sound boxes, others used keyboards, tape recordings - Then it was discovered that the giveaway whistle with Cap'n' Crunch cereals did the trick.It is said that a guy calling himself Cap'n Crunch called John Draper discovered this trick. These whistles can often be found for sale on e-Bay.

The telco's were naturally upset and alarmed - hundreds of thousands of dollars were being siphoned away - some of them by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs - who allegedly sold "blue boxes".. featured in a comic and who went on to modest success in the computer and phone bizniz.

Draper (website) ended up working for Apple and after being pulled for wire fraud wrote Draper wrote EasyWriter, ( a word play on the then cult film Easy Rider ) the first word processor for the Apple II, and( according to legend ) it was jandwritten in 1979 while serving nights in the Alameda County Jail. It was also sold to IBM when they launched their PC. (It was also, compared with the then leading product Wordstar from Micropro, a bag of shite.)

Joe was arrested in Memphis, Tenn. and claiming this was a stunt , he went on to become a paid advisor to telcos on security.

Then in 1988 claiming he was abused by a nun at a blind school, which added to the woes at home as his itinerant dad, a school photographer and mum often came to blows.

He changed his name legally to Joybubbles and founded the Church of Eternal Childhod Motto " Re-envisioning a new past in the present is important for our future".His Minneapolis City Phone book listing was "Zxzyx" - the last in the book - a colleague of Lord Patel's from Edinburgh days , a Polish refugee and fine botanist enjoyed the same position - his surname was Zylinsky.

He recorded tales of Stories 'n' Stuff on his voice mail which can be found on the web. (see below)
He died August 8, 2007 a lonely, confused, childlike figure , Joybubbles apparently never grew older than 5.

Sites to search

Interview with him about technical matters

NPR interview by Robert Segal this year after his death with Ron Rosenbaum who wrote the Esquire article

Stories and Stuff

Wizzywig - Fascinating picture comic about Steve & Steve, blue boxes etc.,

Discovery Channel History of Hacking - video

WSJ Jan 13th 2007 -The Twilight Years of Cap'n Crunch

PhoneFreaks web site - http://www.euronet.nl/users/jasmine/root/digitalunderground/phonefreaks.html

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