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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   for the hacker to logoff and then had hacked into the game and destroyed

   the hacker's position.


   Electron was furious. He had been so proud of his position in his very

   first game. Still, wreaking havoc on the Minerva system in retribution

   was out of the question. Despite the fact that they wasted weeks of

   his work, Electron had no desire to damage their system. He considered

   himself lucky to be able to use it as long as he did.


   The anti-establishment attitudes nurtured in BBSes such as PI and Zen

   fed on a love of the new and untried. There was no bitterness, just a

   desire to throw off the mantle of the old and dive into the new.

   Camaraderie grew from the exhilarating sense that the youth in this

   particular time and place were constantly on the edge of big

   discoveries. People were calling up computers with their modems and

   experimenting. What did this key sequence do? What about that tone?

   What would happen if ... It was the question which drove them to stay

   up day and night, poking and prodding. These hackers didn't for the

   most part do drugs. They didn't even drink that much, given their age.

   All of that would have interfered with their burning desire to know,

   would have dulled their sharp edge. The underground's

   anti-establishment views were mostly directed at organisations which

   seemed to block the way to the new frontier--organisations like



   It was a powerful word. Say `Telecom' to a member of the computer

   underground from that era and you will observe the most striking

   reaction. Instant contempt sweeps across his face. There is a pause as

   his lips curl into a noticeable sneer and he replies with complete

   derision, `Telescum'. The underground hated Australia's national

   telephone carrier with a passion equalled only to its love of

   exploration. They felt that Telecom was backward and its staff had no

   idea how to use their own telecommunications technology. Worst of all,

   Telecom seemed to actively dislike BBSes.


   Line noise interfered with one modem talking to another, and in the

   eyes of the computer underground, Telecom was responsible for the line

   noise. A hacker might be reading a message on PI, and there, in the

   middle of some juicy technical titbit, would be a bit of crud--random

   characters `2'28 v'1';D>nj4'--followed by the comment, `Line noise.

   Damn Telescum! At their best as usual, I see'. Sometimes the line

   noise was so bad it logged the hacker off, thus forcing him to spend

   another 45 minutes attack dialling the BBS. The modems didn't have

   error correction, and the faster the modem speed, the worse the impact

   of line noise. Often it became a race to read mail and post messages

   before Telecom's line noise logged the hacker off.


   Rumours flew through the underground again and again that Telecom was

   trying to bring in timed local calls. The volume of outrage was

   deafening. The BBS community believed it really irked the national

   carrier that people could spend an hour logged into a BBS for the cost

   of one local phone call. Even more heinous, other rumours abounded

   that Telecom had forced at least one BBS to limit each incoming call

   to under half an hour. Hence Telecom's other nickname in the computer

   underground: Teleprofit.


   To the BBS community, Telecom's Protective Services Unit was the

   enemy. They were the electronic police. The underground saw Protective

   Services as `the enforcers'--an all-powerful government force which

   could raid your house, tap your phone line and seize your computer