Anderson: Would you like to play a game?

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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.

Comments (11)

  1. Tim A wrote::

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

    Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 10:55 am #
  2. mathewi wrote::

    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.

    Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 11:43 am #
  3. Tim A wrote::

    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.

    Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm #
  4. MaggyYoung wrote::

    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.

    Sunday, August 31, 2008 at 7:02 pm #
  5. nulls102 wrote::

    Thanks for sharing . Nice blog :-)

    Best regards
    Nols

    http://xtonlinegame.com

    Friday, October 17, 2008 at 3:21 pm #
  6. great look at what hacking was like before the Internet, with online text-based chat rooms and modems with rubber couplings that attached to

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 at 10:17 pm #
  7. indir wrote::

    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.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 1:35 pm #
  8. s. green wrote::

    thanks for the back story on Tom Anderson…;)

    Friday, July 10, 2009 at 11:34 pm #
  9. s. green wrote::

    thanks for the back story on Tom Anderson…;)

    Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 4:34 am #
  10. Free Games wrote::

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

    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 6:38 am #
  11. He just a kid, I don't look up to break the law.

    Friday, January 29, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

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  1. I don’t look up to “hackers” | TechnoMagicians Blog on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 10:41 am

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