I’m with Mike Arrington on this one: I think the news that Tom Anderson was a teenaged “War Games” hacker is pretty darn cool. According to old news stories that TechCrunch came across, as well as reports from a source close to the MySpace co-founder, he was a hacker known as Lord Flathead when he was just 14, and was part of a huge FBI sting operation after he hacked his way into a large mainframe computer used by Chase Manhattan Bank, where he changed passwords and reconfigured accounts to block access by bank officials. Although Anderson wasn’t charged because he was under-age, his computer equipment was apparently seized by the government.

To fully appreciate this news, of course, you have to be a fan of the movie War Games, which is about 20 years old now but is still one of the finest early tech movies. It features Matthew Broderick as a young hacker who breaks into the Pentagon’s war-games system and unknowingly gets the central computer to start a real-life war scenario with the Soviet Union, and it’s a great look at what hacking was like before the Internet, with online text-based chat rooms and modems with rubber couplings that attached to either end of an old rotary phone handset (I remember using a similar one at my first real journalism job).

The only un-cool thing about the Tom Anderson news, of course, is that he grew up to create something as lame as MySpace. I mean, sure it’s a huge social network and all, which is very impressive; but compared with hacking into mainframes it just doesn’t compare.

About the author

Mathew 2414 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

12 Responses to “Anderson: Would you like to play a game?”
  1. […] Anderson: Would you like to play a game? Share: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  2. I don't look up to hackers. Quite the opposite really. http://www.kosmo.com/blogs/techno/?p=384

    • Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, Tim. I think that
      without the early hackers, we probably wouldn't have many of the
      technologies and services we take for granted today — including much
      of the Internet.

      • I suppose it depends on the exact definition of “hacker”. What I'm saying is that I don't look up to folks that break the law. And just because someone was able to break into a computer system doesn't mean they are smart in any way shape or form. Of course they might be but thats not the point.

        I'd beg to argue that hackers of this type had very little to nothing to do with technologies that shaped the industry and the internet.

  3. I guess it was showing so much initiative so early which was important, not really what he actually did & also to be fair, maybe not so many could have done the same or even thought of it.

  4. Thanks for sharing . Nice blog :-)

    Best regards
    Nols

    http://xtonlinegame.com

  5. great look at what hacking was like before the Internet, with online text-based chat rooms and modems with rubber couplings that attached to

  6. I'd beg to argue that hackers of this type had very little to nothing to do with technologies that shaped the industry and the internet.

  7. thanks for the back story on Tom Anderson…;)

  8. thanks for the back story on Tom Anderson…;)

  9. Yeah – War Games! surely brings back the memory ^^

  10. He just a kid, I don't look up to break the law.

Comments are closed.