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29 January 2015, 9:38 am

We've received an offer of a settlement from our distributors who took off with nearly 100 grand of our earnings last year. Needless to say, it's shockingly underwhelming.

If we agree to say that they no longer owe us anything, they might pay us between 0 and 2.5 percent of what they owe us. Yes, they're not even saying they will do that much, since the numbers could change. (But they somehow know that the numbers can't possibly change in our favor.) So we could agree to this and get absolutely nothing. By not agreeing, we would almost certainly get nothing, but we would forever be able to say that they still owe us. We've always preferred leaning towards the truth.

We understand the difficulty that bankruptcy presents. When crap like this happens, it's a miracle we can avoid it ourselves. But we seem to have a fundamental difference of opinion when it comes to integrity. We believe in paying what we owe, even when it's painful. Companies like this... well, they don't. What they do instead is something quite scandalous and shameful - but completely legal.

While the distribution arm of Source Interlink indeed closed its doors last year when they decided it wasn't going to be profitable, their publishing arm changed their name that very day from Source Interlink to TEN: The Enthusiast Network. They continued to publish highly profitable magazines like Motor Trend, Hot Rod, and Automobile. (We'd be curious to see how much of a hit those publications took when their distributor didn't pay them. We suspect some creative math likely came to the rescue.)

The corporate claim is that there is no connection between the two arms and, on paper, this is true. However, it doesn't take much to realize that there was a significant degree of coordination that continued between them. Their websites shared space, their mailing addresses were listed as the same, even their telephone switchboards allowed easy transferring from one company to the other. Concerned callers to Source Interlink were assured that the publishing arm was "flourishing" and operating under their new name. It was only the rest of us who were thrown under the bus.

While this name change occurred at the time of the closure (such "rebranding" is what any company would do if their name became polluted), the legal separation had taken place a bit earlier. This allowed both halves to plan for this eventuality and minimize the damage to themselves. The ones left out in the cold would be those who they owed money to (publishers) and, of course, their 5,000 employees.

This excerpt from their recent statement shows how familiar they are with this process:

"In October, 2013, on account of, among other things, decreased demand for print media and upcoming debt maturities, the company undertook a corporate reorganization (the "October 2013 Restructuring") pursuant to which the Debtors were separated from Source Media while equitizing approximately $436 million of debt pursuant to an out-of-court transaction with their secured lenders that, together with the 2009 Restructuring, resulted in many Holders of Holdings Interests acquiring their respective positions."

To us, it looks like they had plenty of time to prepare for a graceful exit, or to at least change their operating practices so that they wouldn't wind up hurting a lot of people. In fact, it's common knowledge that the event that led to their decision to shut down was the writing off of a debt of $7 million to Time Magazine. Time also claimed that they would be unable to collect around $19 million in sales. One might think that having a debt of this magnitude written off would be great news if you were the company that owed it. To Source Interlink, however, it only meant the loss of a big client and, with it, the loss of potential future profits. With this in mind, the following statement of theirs elicits little sympathy:

"Two of the largest legacy print platforms - newspapers and magazines - have experienced year-over-year revenue declines since 2009 due to the continuing and fundamental technological shift away from traditional consumption of print media and toward online magazines and e-book readers. Readers are migrating quickly to digital and mobile platforms, a move that has accelerated with the proliferation of tablets and smart phones. This migration has been compounded by the sluggish growth of the U.S. economy and consumers' reluctance to spend on print media. The decline in overall demand for print media also led to increased competition for retailer customers among wholesale distributors."

All of this is true, but it's not the reason Source Interlink decided to shut down. At the very least, being relieved of this massive debt should have been sufficient for them to make significant steps in paying their other debts before deciding to throw in the towel. And don't be deceived by that last sentence about competition. They were the second largest wholesaler in the United States, representing nearly a third of all newsstand business in the country. They were the primary distributor of magazines to Barnes and Noble. Source Interlink may have had problems, but competing was certainly not one of them.

"The Debtors also experienced a number of operational setbacks. In 2011, for instance, Borders Group, Inc., a key customer, filed for bankruptcy and liquidated their stores, representing a $48 million reduction in revenue for Source Distribution and a corresponding $6 million decline in EBITDA. Kroger and Albertsons, other key customers, moved their magazine supply and in-store merchandising to competitor wholesalers. These customer-specific issues were exacerbated by, among other things, increases in the costs of fuel and other raw materials, continued same store sales declines for Source Distribution, lower worldwide sales by Source International, and lower-than-expected profitability from Source Manufacturing."

We sympathize. We're in the same business, after all. Every issue related to the decline of publishing or the closing of retail outlets also affected us. The difference was that we made adjustments so that we could continue to survive. What these guys did was collect all of the money magazines like ours had earned through sales and then shut their doors without paying any of the publishers! Had they truly cared about the publishing world they were so heavily involved in, wouldn't paying the publishers have been highest on their priority list, rather than relegated to a category called "unsecured claims" with the weird label of "impaired" attached to it? We can only imagine how many publishers were driven out of business by these ill-advised and dishonorable actions.

Again, this is how the system works. They did their homework and they will likely get away with all of these legal shenanigans. Small publishers like us have been hurt the most, both financially and with reduced distribution. But one thing they can't take away is our voice - and yours. What they did here was morally reprehensible and we intend to make sure that is never forgotten. They can change their name and claim innocence, but none of that alters the way the facts played out. Despite the negative connotations that hackers are given by the mass media, we like to think that people look to us to set an example. Ways that we do that include respecting our readers by providing them with what they want, admitting when we've fallen short on that or anything else, and always paying the debts we owe and fulfilling the obligations we make. The message we get from Source Interlink/The Enthusiast Network is very different: keep making a profit until it gets hard, then pull out and let others deal with the mess, all the while preserving your own self-interests. We hope that's an example few will ever choose to follow.

If you want to express your opinions to TEN: The Enthusiast Network, good luck. Their Twitter account will quickly block you if you criticize them in any way. We suspect the same is true for their Facebook page. You can see how well they're doing at their website, but we doubt they really want your feedback over there either. We can tell you that their phone number is (310) 531-9900 (the same number as the distribution company) and their address is 831 S Douglas Street, El Segundo, California 90245, but we believe they have become quite adept at avoiding any contact with the public.

For those of you who have some legal knowledge or who simply like to suffer, we have attached a couple of the documents related to the "plan" that has been put forward (nobody said we couldn't share the details). If you find anything of interest, please let us know. Thanks, as always for your support.

NEW 'Off The Wall' ONLINE
27 January 2015, 5:29 pm

NEW 'Off The Wall' ONLINE

Posted 28 Jan, 2015 1:29:46 UTC

The new edition of Off The Wall from 27/01/2015 has been archived and is now available online.

12 January 2015, 3:26 am

The brand new Winter 2014-2015 issue of 2600 has hit the stands and is already in the hands of paper and digital subscribers worldwide. There are many ways you can quickly get a copy. You can head down to your local store that carries us, subscribe to paper copies through our store, or get a digital subscription through Kindle, Google Play, and a number of other outlets by visiting our digital edition section. (You can also get individual issues using all of these methods.) The important thing is that you remain up to date on what's going on in the hacker world, a world that has never been more relevant than today.


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19 December 2014, 3:48 am

You've probably been hearing quite a bit about hackers recently. According to the mass media, hackers have been holding Hollywood hostage, are working for the North Korean government, and are basically equivalent to terrorists. Some of this we've heard before and some is just completely out of left field. As one small part of the vast and diverse hacker community, we felt compelled to not only say something, but to do something.

First, let's clear one thing up: We have little remaining ill will towards Sony for their part in the MPAA lawsuit against us in 2000, when we were hauled into federal court for publishing a computer program that would allow Linux users to view DVDs. We learned a valuable lesson about corporate America, the government, and the power of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We saw how the media could be so easily manipulated by the powers that be. And, while we lost the case, we became the first actual victims of the DMCA, and had the privilege of being the ones to warn the rest of the country what was ahead. That fight has been going on ever since. And Sony played a valuable role in motivating us. We thank them for that.

As hackers, we have a strong commitment to freedom of speech, which we regularly express through our magazine, our radio shows, our conferences, and any other medium we can get our hands on. Most in the hacker world share in these very basic values.

We've protested films in the past when they've been unfair to the hacker community. It tends to freak out those in power when they realize hackers are angry at them, but most of those fears are based on paranoia and ignorance as to what the hacker community is really all about. And cutting off speech, silencing unpopular views, and avoiding controversy are not what we're about.

As you have undoubtedly heard, Sony has decided to cancel the release of their controversial film "The Interview." They've done this because of a single, vague threat that is tantamount to something we've all seen at one time or another on an IRC channel and not thought twice about. By focusing on this threat, however, Sony can attempt to extricate itself from the controversy and the immensely stupid movie plot it agreed to produce - and blame the whole thing on hackers, albeit North Korean ones. (They might also escape liability for their inadequate computer security by claiming the massive compromise of their systems was equivalent to a terrorist act. But that's another story, or possibly a whole new movie.) In their gross generalization, and with the help of the mass media, the entire hacker community is being painted with a very broad and dark brush.

We have decided to call their bluff. To demonstrate that hackers have no interest in suppressing speech, quashing controversy, or being intimidated by vague threats, we ask that Sony allow the hacker community to distribute "The Interview" for them on the 25th of December. Now, we're aware that Sony may refer to this distribution method as piracy, but in this particular case, it may well prove to be the salvation of the motion picture industry. By freely offering the film online, millions of people will get to see it and decide for themselves if it has any redeeming qualities whatsoever - as opposed to nobody seeing it and the studios writing it off as a total loss. Theaters would be free from panic as our servers would become the target of any future vague threats (and we believe Hollywood will be most impressed with how resilient peer-to-peer distribution can be in the face of attacks). Most importantly, we would be defying intimidation, something the motion picture industry doesn't quite have a handle on, which is surprising considering how much they've relied upon it in the past.

We sincerely hope Sony doesn't refuse this offer because of the potentially bitter irony of having hackers show them how to run their own industry. Perhaps if they had spent less time in court and more time learning to stand up for the values they allegedly hold (not to mention installing a little security on their systems and protecting the privacy of their employees and associates), this little bit of drama might never have had to happen. But then, where would Hollywood be without drama?

Even more vital than ensuring that the public gets to experience (and judge) art for themselves is the need for hackers to show their true colors. These are not the colors of terrorists, bullies, or government agents, but rather those of creative individuals who can cause all kinds of mischief and, in the process, come up with unique solutions and ingenious ways of preserving freedom. We believe it's the latter category that really scares those in power and is likely at the heart of all of the wild fear-mongering we're hearing today. Failure to correct these misconceptions now could easily assure future crackdowns that will affect all of us.

We will be preparing a section of our website for screening of "The Interview" on December 25th. If Sony agrees, we will work our asses off to make this happen. If they don't give us permission to do this, then we will point to any sites that have managed to obtain the film. The address to write to for anyone from Sony, North Korean officials, hackers around the world, or the general public is

Censorship and fear must be fought at every opportunity. We made that point while opposing Sony in the past. Now we must make that point again, this time for their benefit.

2 December 2014, 2:26 am

We've put together a variety of special deals to help celebrate the holiday season. They range from new articles of clothing to a special "double lifetime" deal to some sharply reduced flash drive content, as well as a whole additional HOPE conference now available in that format - for NO additional charge. You can also find out how to get an entire year of 2600 for free! Some of these deals are limited, so we can't promise they'll be around for the entire month. But we will do our best to resupply when necessary. Go and check out what we've put together. (We advise you to be sitting down when you see this for the first time.)

28 October 2014, 2:16 am

It's now possible to get a 2600 subscription through Google Play in The Netherlands, Russia, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. This is in addition to the countries that were already on that service (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia). We expect more countries to be added soon. To subscribe from any of these countries (or to get an individual issue from anywhere), click here.

14 October 2014, 3:14 am

The Autumn issue of 2600 has hit the stands and is also in the hands of most of our subscribers. We're still reeling from the "bankruptcy" of our major distributor, which looks to leave us in the hole for close to 100 grand. You can help us get through this by subscribing, renewing, and encouraging others to do the same.

We've even added some incentives to try and get more people subscribing, so we can make up for the loss of bookstores and newsstands that our new distributors aren't supplying. Here's how it works:

For every new subscriber you get for us, we will add one year to your existing subscription. There is no limit. The new subscriber simply has to mention your name or subscriber code. If you get ten people to subscribe, you'll get ten more years, we'll get ten more subscribers, and ten people will get turned on to 2600. Everyone wins. (If you're a lifetime subscriber, we will work with you to substitute something instead of additional years.)

Existing subscribers who renew will get a free year added on to their subscriptions. If you're a new subscriber, all you have to do is renew your subscription before the cutoff date and you'll also get an additional year added on.

These special subscriber deals will last until the end of the year.


Get the current issue!!

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23 September 2014, 12:09 pm

The fourth year of 2600 has been archived in high resolution PDF format and is available at our online store. This release includes a number of issues that have been out of print and unavailable for years. We've done our best to make this digital version as high quality as possible, allowing readers to zoom in and see some of our really tiny print that we became famous for.

We've taken a bit of time to go into the details of what was being covered by us back then, as well as the various milestones and changes we experienced while putting these issues together. In addition, we're finally explaining what was behind the covers - in this case, our first true covers that used illustrations and photos, with limited use of color. We're sharing all of that info below.

To get your very own copy and support our archiving efforts, go here.


1987 was the year that we finally began to print in digest format, a style that would remain throughout our history. But this year was unique in that it was the only one where we were both digest size and monthly. We soon learned that this was way too much work and financially draining as well. We made it through that year, barely.

To conclude our transition to a more regular looking magazine, a number of major changes were implemented. For one thing, we were now a full 24 pages instead of just eight. The pages weren't the same size, but that didn't stop us from trying to cram as much information as possible into each one, often to the annoyance of those whose eyesight wasn't perfect. We were now able to print color on our front and back cover, and that one sheet was also glossy. (Technically, we could have also printed color on the inside front and back cover but we didn't opt to do that at this stage.) The back cover of each issue was devoted to a table of contents for each issue and they all had the same title: CONTENTS. (This was not the year for creative table of contents titles, clearly.) We didn't start printing color on the back cover until February. Notices on the back covers of January and February reminded readers to save their address labels because the numbers on them would allow for logins to our official bulletin board: The Private Sector. Starting in March, the words "WARNING: MISSING LABEL" would appear since that was the space where an address label was supposed to go. This led to a bit of controversy as 2600 was now being mailed like other magazines out in the open and no longer hidden in an envelope. Many readers had a problem with this, which is why we offered an option from the start for continuing to mail issues inside an envelope. The March edition was also the first one to show our second class postage permit prominently displayed on the back cover, allowing our publication to be mailed as a periodical for the very first time. It showed up again in June and December, but wasn't displayed on any other issue. The April issue contained a little note on the back cover asking people who received their issue after the 25th to contact us, as we were still trying to fine tune the whole mailing process. The December issue was the first to add a line to our return address saying "Forwarding and Address Correction Requested," which was necessary for publications to ask for in order to get correct addresses and not have magazines completely disappear. It took nearly the entire year to get all of the mailing requirements sorted out.

But, of course, the biggest change in all of this was our newfound ability to have a whole new cover for each issue. We had never done anything of this sort before and it was a real challenge. Tish Valter Koch was our first cover artist and she provided us with a number of commissioned drawings throughout the year.


January represented a bit of a reflection of new beginnings as well as the allure of New York City. A payphone is seen with its receiver dangling in a subway station, with signs for the A, D, R, J, and 2600 train. On the wall next to the payphone is a replica of one of our publicity stickers we used to leave everywhere that helped to spread word of the magazine to the masses. Under the "2600" on each cover of the year was the volume and issue number, along with the month, year, and a price of $2. Much of the style of this information was inconsistent throughout the year, sometimes in all caps, abbreviated, or with punctuation. Next to the "2600" (which was done in a completely different typeface than in previous years) was our familiar upper right hand corner box, sort of a mini-cover tradition that we carried over from our previous years. This one had our usual beginning-of-year exclamation point along with an asterisk on one corner of the box. That asterisk carried special significance, as it was the official logo of Stony Brook University's public relations office when memos were posted campus-wide. Some years earlier, a few mischief makers had caused quite a stir when fake announcements on those same letterheads were widely distributed. But that's another story....

February was a picture of the inside of an innocuous room somewhere. The clock on the wall reads 2:30, there is a half eaten apple on the shelf (possibly a reference to Apple Computer), and there is a collection of 2600 issues, including some from the future. On the next shelf are books called "The FIB," (an apparent reference to the FBI), and "Tee Vee Kay," which happened to be the cover artist's initials. There are also two phones, one black and one red, some fuses, and a computer that has on its screen the words "Within the Circle Invisible." A book that had come out at the time detailing some hacker antics was titled "Out of the Inner Circle" and this was a play on that. A steaming beverage of some sort is on the desk and outside the window a long line of telephone poles can be seen, connecting this room to the outside world. This was also the first cover that coined our then slogan "The Monthly Journal of the American Hacker," which was a mockery of the old Wall Street Journal slogan "The Daily Diary of the American Dream." The mini-cover consisted of clip-art of a pigeon next to what appears to be an animate tree branch.

March had our newly coined slogan moved directly underneath the "2600" masthead. This month's cover shows a satellite apparently crashing through an orange wall. We know of no specific significance here, other than it looked pretty cool. Neither was there any special meaning to the Greek alphabet being displayed in this month's mini-cover.

April had a completely different look, being a collection of clip art with all sorts of political references to overspending in the Reagan administration (otherwise known as pork), a crisis with the Russians, red hotline phones, and Nancy Reagan's china (a controversy of the time since she had spent over $200,000 on china place settings for guests). George Bush, vice president at the time, makes an appearance in the mini-cover and is referred to as "string art."

May went back to our telephone roots, with another New York City based drawing, in honor of the upcoming 2600 meeting, the one that would be the start of many more in the years ahead. We see an airplane hurtling past the World Trade Center as a suspicious looking man on a street corner tries to sell what appear to be payphones in a suitcase. Another man stands (all too) innocently reading a newspaper. The mini-cover is an extension of this drawing, with suspicious eyes peering through the top of a payphone.

June featured more clip art. We see a pirate with a skull and crossbones hat, an eyepatch, a large mustache, and a hook on one arm that resembles a question mark. He stares at us over an image of a touch tone desk phone with only nine buttons, and the startled eyes of a total stranger. On the right are what appear to be graphical dialing instructions, resulting in a handshake and a cash payment. The hand in the mini-cover indicates that everything is A-OK.

July was yet another homage to New York City, this time by looking over a bridge showing some famous buildings. The Citicorp Center, which had recently become the home of the brand new 2600 meetings, is prominently featured as a gigantic payphone. In the East River can be seen a barge filled with garbage, a reference to the Long Island garbage barge incident of 1987. This barge was unable to find a place to unload and spent a great deal of time going up and down the coastline, much to the amusement of just about everybody. Various bits of clip art appeared in the mini-cover.

August showed a striking image of a kid looking a lot like Dennis the Menace being confronted with a gun waving delivery man. This was based on a true story involving someone who had been raided by Secret Service agents posing as UPS men. The absurdity of the situation is underlined by the many innocent items in this typical kid's room (roller skates, a dog, a softball, a clown lamp, and a Star Wars poster). But some commentary seeps in, with the letters on the truck outside rearranged to say PUS, some blocks on the floor that spell ASS, and a poster of Oliver North with his fingers crossed, a clear reference to the ongoing Iran-Contra hearings at which he was testifying. In the mini-cover, we see a UPS package wrapped up with the caption "Hurry up, we're falling asleep!" This was likely an expression of our impatience at cases like this dragging on without any real evidence ever being presented.

September shows a combination nine button payphone/slot machine with Ma Bell logos as slot machine symbols and a 2600 sticker on the face. "The Sumps at Stony Haven" referred to both overdevelopment on Long Island and a fictitious community featured on several WUSB radio shows, including "The Voice of Long Island." The "Seafood Oyster Bay Expressway" is a play on a Long Island highway called the "Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway," NYNEX and Exxon have their logos merged on a distant building, and a phrase written under the payphone reads "Bye bye, hanging up now!" In the mini-cover, a sleepy star with a nightcap waves at us. We have no idea what that was all about.

October was a cover done by a new artist, Ken Copel, showing an astronaut on the moon talking on a phone with Earth in the background. The American flag is planted firmly on the moon's surface, while a copy of 2600 lies on the ground. (The issue is apparently the present one as the colors seem to line up.) Some people thought the ground was actually a collection of our signatures, but we can assure you that wasn't the case. The mini-cover was actually a shrunken image of an advertisement from a British newspaper showing an elderly man whose main worry in life seemed to be the cost of funeral expenses. We fell in love with the fear mongering instantly.

November was the first of two 1987 covers that were photographs sent to us (amazingly enough) by the phone company. (We sometimes were able to pass ourselves off as a publication that could help them publicize their neat activities.) In this case, we see technicians at work on a brand new 5ESS Western Electric switch, the top of the line back then. The mini-cover consisted of three faces: the late CIA Chief William Casey, along with the archvillain "Q" and Captain Jean-Luc Picard from the brand new Star Trek series. Make of that what you will.

December was the second phone company supplied publicity photograph which we put to good use. This one shows a couple of cable splicers in the field. The mini-cover features a shot of Nancy Reagan standing next to her husband, whose face has been replaced with that of Mikhail Gorbachev. Photoshop hadn't been invented yet.


The new format allowed for a total of 24 pages including the cover pages. The previous page numbering scheme of volume number followed by that year's cumulative page count was abandoned in favor of a more conventional "per issue" numbering system. Page numbers appeared on pages 2 through 23.

The staffbox remained largely the same as in 1986, appearing consistently on page 3 (except for December when it was moved to page 2) with the "Editor and Publisher" still listed as "Twenty Six Hundred." This changed with "Eric Corley 110" assuming that position in March (the "110" representing the first three digits of his Social Security Number) and "TSH" being recognized as "Editor Emeritus" from that point with "(making new waves)" appended for the first month. New positions were "Office Manager," "PSOS Operations" (previously "BBS Operator"), and "Artists." "Associate Editors" and "Writers" were listed as they were before. In March, the "Associate Editors" credit disappeared as did "PSOS Operations." "Artists" was replaced with a "Cover Art" and "Cartoonists" credit. In April, the addition of a graphic designer resulted in the creation of a "Production" credit. For one month (August), we had two office managers, so the credit was adjusted to reflect that transitional period. A new title of "Reader" was added in October, with a name of "John Kew," which represented John Q. Public. The "Editor Emeritus" credit became noticeably smaller that same month and would continue to shrink in the year's remaining issues. In December, the "Cover Art" credit was removed, as photos were being used at this stage.

Mailing info (also on page 3 for every month but December) now included a line about second class postage as the new format allowed the magazine to be mailed as a periodical for a reduced rate. We jumped the gun by saying we had a permit in January and that was changed in February to reflect the fact that the permit was still pending. We also were required to add a street address instead of our traditional P.O. box starting with the February issue. The price changed effective with the March issue with individual subscriptions going from $12 to $15 and from $30 to $40 for corporate subscriptions. Overseas rates changed from $20 to $25 for individuals and $55 was introduced as the overseas corporate rate. More info on submissions was added to this section in April. A line about back issue availability was added in June. A copyright notice was added in July. A line giving out our telephone number was added in August. The back issue description was modified slightly in November and the information on letters and article submissions was made more noticeable. The line that said "Telephone:" was changed to "2600 Office Line:" and four new lines were added - two for our new BBS numbers, one for our Usenet address, and one for our ARPANET address.

At this stage in our development, we believed that we could make a go of it with advertising and we had a fairly decent amount of ads that were printed throughout the year. The new format allowed for full page ads to be sold.

While columns and features from the previous three years were all gone (except, of course, for the letters), a new column called "The Telecom Informer" emerged and appeared in all 12 issues on page 8. Writers of the column were listed as Dan Foley, John Freeman, Goldstein, Al Fresco, and Staff. December's column had no writer credit at all. A column titled "Phone News" began in January and was subsequently listed in the February contents, but didn't appear in that issue or ever again. Occasional articles with titles like "New Developments" or "Goings On" covered much of the same content.

Our first payphone photo appeared on page 17 of the January issue in black and white. We didn't yet realize how popular that concept would become.

The first edition of the 2600 Marketplace launched in January and appeared in every issue of 1987 on page 19.

Throughout the year, we made reference to experiments taking place involving the selling of 2600 at various newsstands around the world, along with the ongoing search for a distributor. We expressed a desire for "more modernized office equipment" including a 2400 baud modem.

It was the year that Telenet introduced electronic mailboxes to the public for $20 a month (ironically the same exact system that had gotten hackers into trouble for making use of it years earlier). Chicago became the first American city to become 100 percent electronic switching while much of the rest of the telephone network remained electromechanical. Articles included tales of the early days of cellular phone fraud and exposes on phone fraud perpetrated by the phone companies themselves, such as the touch tone fee, "deluxe" call waiting, "gold" numbers, and payphones that credited quarters as mere nickels. There was growing concern over the prospect of increased automation and "electronic sweatshops." We also told the final chapters of a couple of other hacker zines: TAP and Computel. And the concept of "beeper tapping" was introduced for those who managed to escape phone taps and pen registers.

Occasionally we would print some sarcastic remark in large type like "Remember the Greediest!" (which was a play on The New York Times' holiday mantra of "Remember the Neediest"). Also interspersed would be various phone and computer related drawings or clip art to break up the immense amounts of type we were cramming into our pages.

The new format generated quite a bit of criticism, with more than a few people wishing we would go back to the old style and stay away from newsstands and bookstores, the fear being that we would go too mainstream if we wound up in those places.

At some point in the year, the 2600 answering machine was hacked and we dealt with it in a rather unusual way, striking out at the manufacturer of the insecure machine by hacking their machine to demonstrate the weaknesses that apparently couldn't be fixed.

This was the year that the very first 2600 "public get-together" actually took off. The initial one was held June 5th at the Citicorp Center in New York City and was a weekly meeting throughout the year. A second such event was planned for July 31st in Philadelphia.

We began to realize how important 2600 had become to people and how the back issues remained relevant to our readers, leading us to say at one point: "our magazine is not a one time deal that you read and discard, but reference material that is stored away and looked at whenever the need arises."

Our official bulletin board system, The Private Sector, was taken down by its owner early in the year. By the end of the year, we were planning a network of new systems, with two online and more on the way. We had certain standards we insisted upon for any official 2600 BBS: no secret sections where only a privileged few could go; and electronic mail had to remain private, off limits even for the system administrator. In a counterpunch to the atmosphere that was leading to more government raids on hackers, we wanted it to be clear that "being anonymous is your right." As the BBS scene was how so many of us communicated, we believed that computer bulletin boards were "one of the most vital links to freedom of speech that we have in the 1980's." This was before the Internet, naturally, but word was beginning to circulate about a series of networks called just that, although the prediction in the article we printed was that the whole thing would eventually be named "Worldnet." It was one of the first articles to explain what "dotted domain names" were. In fact, 2600 wound up with two different addresses in that realm: 2600@dasys1.UUCP and phri!dasys1!2600@nyu. It was clear things were changing and exciting developments were around the corner. But it still seemed like a fantasy. "The thought of an entire population using computer terminals, not just the technologically literate minority, is truly revolutionary," we said at one point.

By the end of the year, it became clear that our changes had been significant - but they needed further tweaking. Effective in 1988, 2600 would become a quarterly publication, a move that would enable us to breathe a little and add to an already impressive list of accomplishments.

22 August 2014, 9:44 am

Those of you who made it to HOPE X may have already seen some of this new stuff. Now it's time to release it to the world.

Our 2015 Hacker Calendar has even more historic hacker dates on it, along with 14 more spectacular foreign payphone photos in full 12"x12" glossy mode. You can start displaying it on your wall in September of this year, as the last four months of 2013 are also represented.

In response to those of you who found the blue color of our standard blue box shirts cute but annoying, we've gone back to our roots and put together a more traditional blue box shirt, one that we know will last a long time since we're still seeing the ones like this we used to make many years ago. One difference - the hacker-related headlines on the back are all new.

Finally, while supplies last, we're offering HOPE X shirts in a wide variety of sizes. These will NOT be reprinted so we suggest getting them as soon as you can if you like the design and/or want to convince people that you were at the conference.

The 2015 Hacker Calendar

The (New) Traditional Blue Box Shirt

The HOPE X Shirt

13 August 2014, 1:54 am

In response to some of the post HOPE X feedback we've been receiving at, we're addressing the needs of those of you who want high quality versions of the HOPE X talks but don't have DVD players in any of your devices. What we've done is encode all of the content into a high quality MP4 format which takes up nearly 64 gigabytes of space. We've divided these into two 32 gigabyte flash drives and added a guide for easy playback, as well as all of the audio files that come with the full DVD sets. While some of the talks are up on YouTube and we plan on posting all of them when we get a chance, these files are of much higher quality and are extremely easy to copy to any device you have. Neither the audio nor video files contain any DRM whatsoever, so you can keep these in your library indefinitely and share them with friends. You can order the HOPE X flash drives at our online store. (If you've already ordered the full DVD sets and wish to get these instead, please email us.

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