Cap'n Crunch, the famous phone phreak introduction

in #hacking7 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


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.

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.

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