Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell (Paperback)
An Amazon, Seattle Times, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Phil Lapsley's Exploding the Phone is an authoritative, jaunty and enjoyable account of their sometimes comical, sometimes impressive and sometimes disquieting misdeeds. . . . The author's love of his subject pervades Exploding the Phone and persuaded this reader, at least, that the phone phreaks are worthy of thoughtful attention.”
Wall Street Journal
A fantastically fun romp through the world of early phone hackers, who sought free long distance, and in the end helped launch the computer era.”
A rollicking history of the telephone system and the hackers who exploited its flaws. [Lapsley] weaves together a brilliant tapestry of richly detailed stories. . . . A first-rate chronicle of an unexamined subculture.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A fascinating book steeped in the rich history of phreakers and hackers.”
Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing.net
As a bit of tech history—with themes that resonate today—it can't be beat.
Long before we ever came onto the scene there was . . . a ragtag group of folks who took the global phone network as the target of their hacking. Exploding the Phone is among the most comprehensive and engaging histories of that community ever published.”
—Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF’s Reading List: Books of 2013”
Exploding the Phone is an extraordinary book. . . . To have such a significant, yet underground story captured in such brilliant detail is rare, especially without turning it into a one-sided hero’s tale. Exploding the Phone is nearly perfect. I have three print copies, all paid for and autographed. You can’t have too many miracles lying around the house.”
Eminently interesting and completely original.”
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
With terrific reporting and story-telling. Phil Lapsley has put voluptuous flesh and bones on the legendary tales of the phone phreaks.”
Steven Levy, author of Hackers and In the Plex
"The definitive account of the first generation of network hackers. . . . 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."
Kevin Poulsen, news editor of Wired.com and author of Kingpin
At once enjoyable and educational.”
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. . . . . Here's the intriguing story of those first electronic adventurerstinkerers 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
"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 bookit is remarkably well-researched, fun to read, and deserves great praise."
Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, Inc.
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
"Seldom are criminals this much fun."
Robert Sabbag, author of Snow Blind
An extremely interesting and engrossing read.”
A highly engaging history of the telephone itself and plenty of intrigue.”
"Phil Lapsley's great history of those hackers is packed with schemes, plots, discoveries, and brainy, oddball personalities. . . . [The stories] he uncoversand the questions he poses, about the nature of the relationship between criminality, curiosity, and technologyis compelling, fascinating stuff."
Exploding the Phone manages to pull of the seemingly impossiblemake one nostalgic for the days of busy signals, operators and rotary dials.”
Winnipeg Free Press
Always entertaining and clear without being excessively technical . . . a well-documented work of historical value. . . . Highly recommended.”
Lapsley more than ably conveys the nuances of this fascinating slice of technological history . . . and his enlightening new interviews with most of the major phreaks as well as AT&T security officers form one of the most significant levels of his tremendous research.”
School Library Journal
Lapsley’s delightful account . . . sheds light on an underappreciated chapter in the history of technology.”