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Between The Ears - Connecting

Connecting - BBC Radio 3 Between the Ears

A radio feature (originally broadcast in 2004) for BBC Radio 3's Between the Ears series exploring the world of the Phone Phreaker, precursors to todays computer hackers, one of whom played a big part in the device you might be using to look at this page. Using little more than Social Engineering and in the case of Captain Crunch, a toy whistle found in cereal boxes, the Phreakers built their own world within the system -  a world of clicks, bleeps, whistles and a safe place to be different. 

Written and presented by Ken Hollings, music and sound production by Simon James.

Go where only your ears can take you.


'You know hacking is a misnomer too. Some people go out there with their smarts and figure out ways to do things, maybe that's a pure form of hacking, but most people sit around and wait for other people to tell them: "Oh, try this. Do it this way. This is how you do it." I mean that's just - huh - playing with it.' 
Steve Wozniak, cofounder Apple Computers

The first and original hackers, the 'phone phreaks' exploited a design fault in the American telephone system during the 1960s and 1970s to gain illegal access to the entire network, allowing them to make free calls, set up 24-hour party lines and spread information amongst themselves. Some of those involved went to jail - others went on to pioneer the phenomenal rise of the home computer. This is their story.

Featuring the voices of Captain Crunch, Joy Bubbles, Mark Bernay and Steve Wozniak, plus archive recordings of actual phone phreak party lines, telephone system sounds, prank calls, ads and intercepts.