Cap'n Crunch, the famous phone phreak introduction

in hacking •  6 years ago  (edited)

Hi Everyone,

I’m really looking forward to meeting a ton of really interesting people. Many of you older folks may remember me as Cap’n Crunch, made famous from a toy whistle found in the Cap’n Crunch Cereal box. With this whistle, it was possible to inject signaling tones into long distant phone lines emulating the capability of operator switchboards. This is an internal access point at the trunk level and not the subscriber level. With this level, you have the power of an operator, able to directly connect to other “Inward” operators, listen in on phone calls (emergency interrupt trunks), and use any of the overseas gateway codes to the rest of the world. This was a big gaping hole in the network, and it took 15 years to fix it by building switching equipment to connect to the new SS7 network.

In mid 1972, due to this information getting out from a publication in the Oct 1971 issue of Esquire magazine article called “Secrets of the little blue box”, caused a lot of heads to roll in the huge empire of “Ma Bell”.

Steve Wozniak, co founder of Apple Inc, was at Steve Jobs house and saw the esquire article and read it. He found it so fascinating, and unbelievable that he thought it was fiction.

Then, a week of so later, I was interviewed on KPFA (A Berkeley public radio station), and demonstrated some of the things you can do with this Blue Box. I showed how it was possible to “Stack tandems” or hop phone calls over as may as 12 links, demonstrating the call setup and broadcasting it on KPFA.

Woz tuned into the program about halfway through, called KPFA, and left his number. KPFA staff gave me his number, and I contacted Steve.

Steve had discovered the tone frequencies were not valid, but stumbled upon the “Bell System Technical Journal” at the Stanford Library, and got the actual frequencies and decided to build his own blue box. Steve, being skilled in Digital electronics designed this complex version of his blue box (Which is sitting inside the Mt View Computer History Museum), but the box was emitting only Square wave tones, but the phone equipment was only designed for pure sine wave tones, so most calls failed to go through.

After I called Steve, he invited me to his UC Berkeley dorm, where he showed me his box, and I warned him the box should send pure tones, but it did work, after about 5 tries, and fiddling with the speaker distance to the mouthpiece. Steve asked me if he could call the Pope in Italy. I said Sure, but I doubt if his box would work. Eventually, I got through and a staff at the Vatican took the call, it was 4 am there.

Steve said “This is Henry Kissinger (the Sec of State then), and I want to talk to the pope to confess of my sins”. It turned out that Henry Kissinger was out of the country, and state said “Oops”.

Anyway, my story will soon be told in a new book I’m soon to be releasing called “Beyond the little but box”,

Updates on the progress of my book can be found on my Facebook page, or they can search for “beyond the little blue box” page on Facebook to ask questions and comments.

Unfortunately, due to an accident, I’m suffering from compression fracture of my spine, and need life saving medication, but you can benefit from this because to raise money for my healing fund, I’m hosting Google Hangouts to raise the money so I can live. You’ll have an opportunity to ask me any questions about anything.

Being 72 years old, I’m getting senile, but when I was young, there was NO computers, NO internet, only Ma Ball. So I have a lot of history in my life.

I just finished writing an article on the new SS7 Switching system of the phone company, and there they go - they did it again…. left a big gaping hole in their network, just like they did when they designed their earlier system that uses “in-band” signaling. This means it was trivial to inject tones into the trunk to control it with a Capn Crunch Whistle. Now they did it again, because a decade ago, the phone company implemented a gateway between the internet and the closed SS7 network.

Please be looking for this article to show up here.

Thanks, and Happy New Years
John D, the Crunchman

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Welcome to the steemit community! Your post reminds me of good ol jolly roger and his bag of tricks( anarchist cookbook) the blue box was one of the projects in his book.

  ·  6 years ago (edited)

Thanks to @majes, verified:

A warm welcome to Steemit, John! I'm following you.

jdcrunchman John Draper tweeted @ 03 Jan 2017 - 04:36 UTC

Hi, I just got on Steemit.… /

Disclaimer: I am just a bot trying to be helpful.

Welcome to Steemit Crunchman!!

Looking foward to your blog here :)

Glad to see you made it! It is Dawn from Facebook today:-)

@badassbarbie , You have no idea the debt of gratitude I owe you for introducing me to a childhood hero.
Thank you for spreading the steemit love.

Hey John! Super glad you're here!
My sister Dawn, @badassbarbie let me know she had been talking to you about steemit, and said you planned to come over. I didn't believe it until I saw this post.

You sir were influential in my youth in a myriad of ways, yet we've never met. Your work was the stuff that initially taught me how to think outside the box. I was about 6 or 7 when I first read about your exploits. I owe you a debt of gratitude. I would not be who I am, had it not been for you.

Welcome aboard Cap'N!

Upvoted, resteemed, promoted and followed!

John! Wow! This is a red letter day - or maybe I should say blue box day, for sure!

Forgive me for gushing just a little, but you've been one of my heroes since 1971 when I first learned of you in the Esquire article...

Welcome, Sir, to Steemit! I truly look forward to reading your blog. 😄😇😄


I am very glad you made it to Steemit, can't wait for your SS7 article. I will also be happy to buy a signed copy of your book when it's available.

Sir i am a whale on steemit and will support your hangouts. Ill gladly see if i can join as well to ask questions and even give some help posting for you if you want.

Regardless of your response to this, thank you for being one of the giants whose shoulders our generation has had to stand on.

Who knows...mayne your brilliant mind will even give us some new thoughts about thisnthing we call the blockchain :)

Fuzzy, I thought you were going to extend him a invite onto the BeyondBitcoin mumble. It would be great to hear this guy talk.. :)

ÏOh i would love that very much but dont want to hurt his efforts in any way by inserting the brand when he is hoping hangouts can help him pay for treatment.
But yes, if he is interested in joining the hangouts dan himself credited for inspiring steems creation, then it just makes sense to me too :)

2600... That number means so much to those who've been around even the outskirts of the internet hacking scene. It represents so much more than cracking or breaking things. It represents searching for truth through insatiable curiosity. Thank so for joining steemit. Followed and looking forward to future content.

Awesome to see you here, welcome. You were an inspiration to me as a kid (I'm 28 now). Back in highschool I had a Windows PocketPC and I loaded up Red Box tones onto it so I could make payphone calls for free. It was a fun experiment. These days I still practice some white hat hacking for a hobby.

Welcome to steemit! I grew up reading stories about you and of course all the stuff you've written over the years. I'm really looking forward to your posts.

  ·  6 years ago (edited)

It is an honour to have you on steemit. You are a leyend, Sir! I grew up reading "hacking/phreaking" books were you were always mentioned. Wow!

Wow, you're one of my heroes... I'll definitely be getting your new book when it comes out and welcome to Steemit. Not every day we get an honest to god hacking hero.

The last time I saw you was at a race in Hudson TX spending time with the Scooby-Doo Crew (SDC)...
Captain Crunch kickin' it with Scooby-Doo! You can't make this shit up!

I arranged many valuable transactions from payphone to payphone using a modified auto-dialer from RadioShack inspired by your efforts.

Thank You for Being You!

Welcome! Wow, like you stepped out from a page of 2600 and into the present blockchain reality! I can't tell you how many interesting adventures resulted from building my first tone dialer! I hope we will see more of your articles here!

I'm hoping to get our KickStarter campaign started soon, and hopefully within a few weeks, we still have some rewards stuff to finalize, and I have to finish editing my intro video I recorded while in Berlin

Mind elaborating on the KickStarter thing? I think you'll find the community here is very generous with that sort of thing. People post bounties and kickstart stuff here all the time.

Which reminds me, you should ask Dawn @badassbarbie to tell you about how to get a debit card that will let you spend the funds you earn here directly. There are only a couple of bitcoin ATMs in Vegas and they're both solely for buying bitcoin last I checked. A debit card just makes life easier.

Hello Cap, We are your legacy Thank you to be here!!

  ·  6 years ago (edited)

Awesome. I've read about you for closing in on three decades. Welcome to steemit. Glad to have you here.

Wow, a real piece of history right here :-)

Welcome to Steemit !!!

Thank you for your great post !

Nice to meet you.

Share some photos we love that stuff.

And how do I do that? I'm a little wet behind the ears using this forum.

Feedback from you about steemit would be much appreciated! Don't hesitate to let as know what you NOT like here! It will help us improve ;)

You'd just have to upload the image separately on services like this:

And when you're typing up a post / comment / reply on Steemit, just use the direct link and the image will be part of the post. The image upload feature will be added in the future and should be part of Steemit, but it's just not that way at the moment :)

Welcome to steemit! Can't wait to read your next one.

I am following you as well.

thank you! looking forward to more interesting posts !

Welcome to Steemit. Honoured to have a pioneer like you on here

Wow John D. is on Steemit! Very cool!

Better than a road map!

This is soo cool. Welcome to Steemit Cap'n!

Welcome to steemit John!

Welcome to Steemit!

Powerful John D!
Maximum respect and big ups to The Crunchman himself 🤝

Welcome onboard! I remember reading about cap'n crunch before :) Looking forward to reading more of your experience!

Just few days ago I finished ready player one book! Nice to see you here

Welcome aboard and thanks for the great introduction!

Thanx, I'll try and get the SS7 article posted soon. You guys are going to love it.

I will follow and read your book for sure!


Upvoted, followed, re-steemed!

Wow, too cool that you are here. Looking forward to your insights. Welcome aboard!


Welcome and good luck to you here!

Welcome aboard! Great to have you here!

Hello John, welcome to Steemit! :-)

Welcome m8 on steemit, follow4follow

Welcome Cap'n Crunch :)

Oh man, my Steemit experience is now complete! Welcome to the community!

Welcome to Steemit Crunchman. I must admit I never heard of Cap'n Crunch cereal before. Continent differences maybe. Sure sounds like this will be an interesting blog to watch so have followed and look forward to more :)

Fascinaring writeup. Welcome from one newcomer to another.

Thanks for sharing Crunchman, interesting stuff

  ·  6 years ago (edited)

You are welcome!
Very interesting

Welcome Cap n

Very nice to meet you Sir!!

Welcome! Super excited to follow your postings!

Welcome to Steemit! :))

Reading this and who you are and all the comments means this is awesome! Welcome!

Wow, great to have a legend such as your self join the site! Welcome to steemit!

Many of you older folks may remember me as Cap’n Crunch

...and I'm having very unreal moment, which is sort of like finding a box of treasuries from childhood and learning that one of heroes painted there is real and broadcasting using the same medium as my humble self. It feels amazing and wonderful :) Welcome!

Hi John D.,

Welcome and thank you for the great post!
I just watched 'Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview' (it's on Netflix) last week and he actually mentions the story about the calling the pope!

I'm a little confused with which Steve called the pope now, but great to read your post just after I first heard of the Blue Box! Fascinating really.

Hope you get back to speed soon!
All the best

Hey Crunchman :) nice to meet ya

Oh my god how did I miss this....

I loved reading everything you did when I was growing up. I did not discover phreaking or hacking till I was 12 or so and that was in 1992. I missed the hay day of phreaking for sure but that did not stop me from trying! You sir are an absolute legend and it is an honor to read anything you post. I look forward to your book.