Audio: Phil discusses Joybubbles, the famous blind whistling phone phreak, on NPR's award-winning show RadioLab.
Video: Watch Phone Phreak Confidential, Phil's talk at this year's Hackers on Planet Earth conference.
Just released from Grove/Atlantic Press:
Exploding the Phone is available in hardback and ebook forms wherever such things are sold.Tweet
I worked hard to make Exploding The Phone both technically and historically accurate. Despite my best efforts, several errors crept in. Here are the ones that I know about:
p. xi, "stumbled onto to some magical" should read "stumbled onto some magical".
p. 6, Ken P. writes, "You give a 1960s-vintage phone number with the 619 area code. The 619 area code didn't exist until November, 1982--in the 1960s, most of California south and east of Los Angeles was in the 714 area code. (Remnant artifacts of this massive area code still exist today--the northern San Diego County area code of 760 runs all the way up to Bishop in the upper Owens Valley.)" This was my misremembering; thanks, Ken. By the way, have you tried calling the number?
p. 14, "problem to before" should read "problem before".
p. 15, "whose his first" should read "whose first".
p. 18, on Bell's invention of the telephone, several readers commented that I gave inadequate attention to the controversy surrounding who invented the telephone, and that I simply presented the "AT&T side of the story." Fair point. Let me remedy that by directing interested readers to Seth Shulman's The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret which presents the other side of the story.
p. 42, "Gerlach, Nevada". Astute reader Christopher H., who is compiling a history of the tiny town of Gerlach, says that in fact Gerlach did not have telephone service until 1960 and thus was a poor choice for the 1955 example I used it for in the book.
p. 45, "If telephone numbers in your local exchange were four digits long ... you tied up four Strowger cans for the entire call." Not quite. The last switch in a step-by-step system is of a special type called a "connector." It consumes the last two digits of the phone number (the tens digit causes the switch to step up, and the ones digit causes the switch to step over to the destination telephone line). Thus, for a four-digit telephone number only three Strowger cans are tied up.
p. 48, "human customers and operators used speak to one another" should read "human customers and operators used to speak to one another".
p. 51, "Washington State College" should read "Washington State University." Both the fact checker at IEEE Spectrum and alert reader Dan H. noted that WSC became WSU in 1959, just prior to the incidents descrbed in the book.
p. 51, "fifty miles south of Spokane" should read "seventy-five miles south of Spokane". Thanks to Eric S. for the correction. (Apparently there's something about Washington State University that prevents me from getting my facts correct.)
p. 61, "407 area code". A typo: the correct area code for Alberta was 403.
p. 233, "Bell Labs had never built a computer before, and its engineers had never written a line of computer code." Not so says reader Evan K.: "Bell Labs developed TRADIC (Transistorized Digital Computer) starting in 1954 and announced it to the public on March 14, 1955."
p. 272, "born fruit" should read "borne fruit." Thanks to reader Jonathan Y. for this catch.
p. 301, "[Sprint and MCI] access codes were only four digits." Sprint and MCI codes were actually five digits long.
p. 309, Tom K. notes that Paul Allen was a college dropout from Washington State University, not Harvard.
p. 311, "171 121 is how you get there". In fact, the code for the Dominican Republic was 172. For the record, this error is my typo and not a faulty recollection on the part of Bill Acker. Also, the city in question is Santo Domingo, not Santa Domingo. (Sigh.)
p. 313, Tom K. writes: "The DEC PDP-6 was a minicomputer, not a microcomputer. The difference between mini- and micro- computers was not just the size, but the instruction set."
p. 408, Acknowledgments. Leave it to me to misspell someone's name when I'm thanking them: "Francis Kriokorian" should be "Francis Krikorian." Sorry about that, Francis. In addition, Lee Thalblum was inadvertantly left off the acknowledgements list. Lee, thanks for your help.
If you find other errors, please contact me.