With so-called Blue Boxes, which allowed illegal phone calls, earned the two Apple founder once their money. One of them will be auctioned in New York.
A chance encounter has shaped the course of computer history: About a mutual friend in 1971, the 15-year-old high school student Steve Jobs and the five-year-old college student Steve Wozniak met. The two “Steve” were excited about electronics, loved rough jokes and did not shy away from activities that were actually illegal.
Dubious hacker activities
An auction in New York is now reminiscent of the early dubious hacker activity of the two Apple founders. At the auction house Bonhams comes on St Nicholas’ Day a so-called blue box by Steve Wozniak under the hammer, with which one could manipulate the telephone system in the seventies and lead free long-distance calls.
Wozniak, whom everyone called “Woz,” was a loner and passionate inventor who stood out as a technical genius among the many other young computer hobbyists in Silicon Valley. Jobs lacked this technical talent, but even as a young man – unlike Wozniak – he had a concrete idea of how to use technology to change the world and earn money.
Inspiration from print medium
A first formative experience, how to outsmart old structures with new technology, made the two Steve’s “Blueboxing”. In an article in the Esquire magazine , Wozniak read how hackers found a way to make long-distance calls for free. The hero of the article was the hobbyist John T. Draper, who became famous under the hacker name “Captain Crunch”. He had figured out how to manipulate the systems of the AT & T phone giant with certain tones to make free calls using a plastic whistle from a cereal box (“Cap’n Crunch”). The two Steve’s were electrified.
Wozniak constructed a stuffed box out of cheap electronic parts, which made the sound sequences much more accurate and reliable than the toy whistle. “With a Blue Box, we could fool the system into being a telephone computer,” recalled Steve Jobs later.
From White Planes via Turkey to Los Angeles
“You could call from a White Plan phone box, New York, then connect to Europe by satellite, put a cable line in Turkey, connect back to Los Angeles, connect three or four times around the globe and have a phone in If you shout something in the phone, it would be 30 seconds later on the other handset. ” “Woz” still likes to tell the story of how he called the Pope on this path – by posing as US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The manipulation of the telephone system was of course illegal. This did not stop Wozniak and Jobs from building Blue Boxes and selling them to friends. “Two teens could then build a box for a hundred dollars, controlling an infrastructure worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the world’s entire phone system, that was magical.” enthused Jobs.
The business sense of Steve Jobs
For the first time, the business sense of Steve Jobs flashed in the Blue Box episode. While Wozniak mainly wanted to impress his buddies at the Homebrew Computer Club, his friend was also interested in earning money and recognizing that a small bet would win big bets.
“Experiences like these showed us the power of an idea,” Jobs told the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association many years later. “If we had not built blue boxes, then we would never have founded Apple.” But before Apple could break away from the many other craft huts in Silicon Valley, it needed a second, more fortuitous encounter: in 1977, venture capitalist Mike Markkula met the two long-haired boys who were in the garage of Jobs’ parents in Los Altos screwed together the first computer.
Management know-how of venture capitalists
With the financial injection and the management know-how of Markkula Apple developed end of the seventies to the hottest start-up in the Silicon Valley. Many years later, Apple was credited with the combination of telephony and innovation as the world’s most valuable listed company. In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone that turned the balance of power in the telecommunications industry upside down. The success of the smartphones driven by the iPhone ensured that no longer the telecom giants had the shots, but hardware providers like Apple and Samsung.
For the Blue Box in New York, which is offered as part of a larger auction with rarities from the science and technology history, Experts expect a purchase price of $ 30 000 to $ 50 000. A much higher price is likely to achieve an Apple I in the auction, allegedly the first copy, which was soldered together by Wozniak personally. Because there are only a few copies of this computer, the Apple I is one of the most sought-after collectibles in the computer sector. Two times more than half a million dollars have been raised at auctions. In contrast, the Blue Box is almost a bargain.