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
"A rollicking history of the telephone system and the hackers who exploited its flaws. [...] Lapsley deftly escorts readers through the development of the modern telephone system (and how it was exploited), covering intricate details of phone technology with prose that is both attentive to detail yet easy to understand for general readers. Perhaps more importantly, the author weaves together a brilliant tapestry of richly detailed stories—the people and events he describes virtually come to life on the page. Taken as a whole, the book becomes nothing short of a love letter to the phone phreaks who 'saw joy and opportunity in the otherwise mundane.' A first-rate chronicle of an unexamined subculture." —Kirkus Reviews (a starred review, reserved for books of "remarkable merit")
"[A] highly engaging history of the telephone itself and plenty of intrigue. Sure, these guys, these phreaks, were breaking the law, but they were also innovators, technological geniuses, precursors of today's computer hackers. A fascinating book." —David Pitt, Booklist (American Library Association)
"A rocking great read about the unknown teenagers and hobbyists who defied AT&T when it was foolish to do so. In Lapsley's magnificent research he has uncovered what amounts to a secret pre-history of the computer and internet revolutions." —Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch
"The definitive account of the first generation of network hackers — the scruffy rebels who first plumbed the secrets of the global telephone network, and accidentally earned the wrath of everyone from AT&T to the FBI. At turns a technological love story, a counter cultural history and a generation-spanning epic, Exploding the Phone is obsessively researched and told with wit and clarity. It captures a moment in time that might otherwise have been lost forever." —Kevin Poulsen, news editor of Wired.com and author of Kingpin
"With terrific reporting and story-telling, Lapsley has put voluptuous flesh and bones on the legendary tales of the phone phreaks." —Steven Levy, author of Hackers and In the Plex
"Before he was the god of sexy computers, Steve Jobs sold blue boxes to Hollywood stars and Bay Area hippies. Exploding the Phone connects the cultural lines that run from hacking Ma Bell to building personal computers. Here, for your amusement, is the story of the frothy counterculture that helped create today's connected world." —Thomas A. Bass, author of The Eudaemonic Pie and The Spy Who Loved Us
"A fascinating story about a period of time that I lived through but didn't know much about. I can't imagine how much work Lapsley had to do to write this book—it is remarkably well-researched, fun to read, and deserves great praise."—Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, Inc.
"With verve and technical accuracy, Phil Lapsley captures the excitement of the days when phone hackers explored Ma Bell's cabled paradise of dial phones and electromechanical switches. When a call across the country cost $5 and operators placed person-to-person calls, teenagers saw the chance to exploit the system, trying to stay a step ahead of police and telephone technicians. Here's the intriguing story of those first electronic adventurers - tinkerers who'd bypass a pay phone with a couple transistors or reach around the world by whistling." —Cliff Stoll, author of The Cuckoo's Egg
"Seldom are criminals this much fun. Even the phone company had a soft spot for these misfits. They are as well-behaved a band of troublemakers as you are ever likely to meet." —Robert Sabbag, author of Snow Blind