August 22, 2007

Joy Bubbles has died

Joe Engressia (a.k.a. Joy Bubbles) has died. He was the original hacker. Born blind with an IQ of 172, he hacked into the Bell Telephone system before he was 10 years old and learned how to control Bell's switching system by whistling tones into the receiver with perfect pitch. Given two phones, he was able to call from one, switch through systems all around the world, and talk to himself on the other.

Some see Engressia's relationship and understanding of the phone system as the beginning of the computer culture, and certainly many of the earliest pioneers in home computing studied his work and life with excitement. There have been pretenders and copycats, but there was only one Joy Bubbles. He was an inspiration to many, despite his troubled past and strange life.

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