Page 014

Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.






   My great aunt used to paint underwater.


   Piling on the weighty diving gear used in 1939 and looking like

   something out of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Lucie slowly sank below

   the surface, with palette, special paints and canvas

   in hand. She settled on the ocean floor, arranged her weighted

   painter's easel and allowed herself to become completely enveloped by

   another world. Red and white striped fish darted around fields of

   blue-green coral and blue-lipped giant clams. Lionfish drifted by,

   gracefully waving their dangerous feathered spines. Striped green

   moray eels peered at her from their rock crevice homes.


   Lucie dived and painted everywhere. The Sulu Archipelago. Mexico.

   Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Hawaii. Borneo. Sometimes she was the

   first white woman seen by the Pacific villagers she lived with for

   months on end.


   As a child, I was entranced by her stories of the unknown world below

   the ocean's surface, and the strange and wonderful cultures she met on

   her journeys. I grew up in awe of her chosen task: to capture on

   canvas the essence of a world utterly foreign to her own.


   New technology--revolutionary for its time--had allowed her to do

   this. Using a compressor, or sometimes just a hand pump connected to

   air hoses running to the surface, human beings were suddenly able to

   submerge themselves for long periods in an otherwise inaccessible

   world. New technology allowed her to both venture into this unexplored

   realm, and to document it in canvas.


   I came upon the brave new world of computer communications and its

   darker side, the underground, quite by accident. It struck me

   somewhere in the journey that followed that my trepidations and

   conflicting desires to explore this alien world were perhaps not

   unlike my aunt's own desires some half a century before. Like her

   journey, my own travels have only been made possible by new

   technologies. And like her, I have tried to capture a small corner of

   this world.


   This is a book about the computer underground. It is not a book about

   law enforcement agencies, and it is not written from the point of view

   of the police officer. From a literary perspective, I have told this

   story through the eyes of numerous computer hackers. In doing so, I

   hope to provide the reader with a window into a mysterious, shrouded

   and usually inaccessible realm.


   Who are hackers? Why do they hack? There are no simple answers to

   these questions. Each hacker is different. To that end, I have

   attempted to present a collection of individual but interconnected

   stories, bound by their links to the international computer

   underground. These are true stories, tales of the world's best and the

   brightest hackers and phreakers. There are some members of the

   underground whose stories I have not covered, a few of whom would also

   rank as world-class. In the end, I chose to paint detailed portraits

   of a few hackers rather than attempt to compile a comprehensive but

   shallow catalogue.