Phreak

phreak —

(n.) - short for phone phreak; a technically creative person who electrically or electronically hacks telephone systems or defrauds telephone companies

(v.) - to explore telephone systems in unconventional ways

The exact meaning and connotation of "phone phreak" has changed in the last half-century but the essential idea behind the concept has not. At heart, a phreak explores phone systems in ways that they were generally not meant to be explored. Though the heyday of phreaking is long past, the phreaking culture remains alive and well and phreaks are still out there, if you know where to look. This site exists not to provide resources for the avid phreak but to document the phreaking scene and provide historical resources for research, investigation, or amusement. In addition, we've made a number of cool programs you can play around with in your browser.

Background

Before the Internet or the personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world's largest machine: the telephone system. By the middle of the twentieth century the telephone network had grown into something extraordinary, a web of cutting-edge switching machines and human operators that linked together millions of people like never before. But the network had a billion-dollar flaw, and once people discovered it, things would never be the same.

Phil Lapsley's Exploding the Phone traces the birth of long-distance communication and the telephone, the rise of AT&T's monopoly, the creation of the sophisticated machines that made it all work, and the discovery of Ma Bell's Achilles' heel. Lapsley expertly weaves together the clandestine underground of phone phreaks who turned the network into their electronic playground, the mobsters who exploited its flaws to avoid the feds, and the counterculture movement that argued you should rip off the phone company to fight against the war in Vietnam.

AT&T responded with "Greenstar," an unprecedented project that would ultimately tap some thirty-three million telephone calls and record 1.5 million of them. The FBI fought back, too, especially when a phone phreak showed a confidential informant how he could remotely eavesdrop on FBI calls. Phone phreaking exploded into the popular culture, with famous actors, musicians, and investors caught with "blue boxes," many of them built by two young phone phreaks named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Soon, the phone phreaks, the feds, and the phone company were at war. — Exploding The Phone

Cool Programs That Run In Your Browser

General

Phreaking Files

Interviews

Conferences

Videos

Forums

Databases

The following databases contain special telephone numbers, prefixes, 0xx/1xx codes, etc.

Documents

Some of the documents on this site have been preserved electronically for decades. A couple have had their existence threatened due to server failures and so forth. While sites like textfiles.com have an immensely larger collection of files than we do, we can't guarantee the resources provided can be found anywhere else in their exact form. A footnote for the eager phreak: the historical files contained on this site are no longer of any use in the phreaking scene and pose no risk at all to the modern phone system. They are being preserved for their historical significance and for nostalgia. These documents have not been modified in any way.

*This is the 2nd most recent copy of the file in its entirety that is available online. The most recent version available online was published a day later but is only available via the Wayback Machine. The link is in the section below. It is not possible to download a webpage from the Wayback Machine so only the 2nd most recent version could be downloaded and made available on this site. After appx. 2003-08-20 the file was split into many webpages and then a website and was no longer released as a single file.

The following are various versions of the above file not hosted by us.

Further Resources