Friday, May 27, 2016
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Phreaking is a slang term coined to describe the activity of a culture of people who study, experiment with, or explore, telecommunication systems, such as equipment and systems connected to public telephone networks. The termphreak is a sensational spelling of the word freak with the ph- from phone, and may also refer to the use of various audio frequencies to manipulate a phone system. Phreak, phreaker, or phone phreak are names used for and by individuals who participate in phreaking.
The term first referred to groups who had reverse engineered the system of tones used to route long-distance calls. By re-creating these tones, phreaks could switch calls from the phone handset, allowing free calls to be made around the world. To ease the creation of these tones, electronic tone generators known as blue boxes became a staple of the phreaker community, including future Apple Inc. cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
The blue box era came to an end with the ever increasing use of computerized phone systems, which sent dialing information on a separate, inaccessible channel. By the 1980s, much of the system in the US and Western Europe had been converted. Phreaking has since become closely linked with computer hacking. This is sometimes called the H/P culture (with H standing for hacking and P standing for phreaking).