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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   Par was a popular guy after that day. Par was great, a sort of Robin

   Hood of the underground. Soon, everyone wanted to talk to him. Hackers

   in New York. Phreakers in Virginia. And the Secret Service in San

   Francisco.

  

                            [ ]

 

   Par didn't mean to fall in love with Theorem. It was an accident, and

   he couldn't have picked a worse girl to fall for. For starters, she

   lived in Switzerland. She was 23 and he was only seventeen. She also

   happened to be in a relationship--and that relationship was with

   Electron, one of the best Australian hackers of the late 1980s. But

   Par couldn't help himself. She was irresistible, even though he had

   never met her in person. Theorem was different. She was smart and

   funny, but refined, as a European woman can be.

  

   They met on Altos in 1988.

  

   Theorem didn't hack computers. She didn't need to, since she could

   connect to Altos through her old university computer account. She had

   first found Altos on 23 December 1986. She remembered the date for two

   reasons. First, she was amazed

   at the power of Altos--that she could have a live conversation on-line

   with a dozen people in different countries at the same time. Altos was

   a whole new world for her. Second, that was the day she met Electron.

  

   Electron made Theorem laugh. His sardonic, irreverent humour hit a

   chord with her. Traditional Swiss society could be stifling and

   closed, but Electron was a breath of fresh air. Theorem was Swiss but

   she didn't always fit the mould. She hated skiing. She was six feet

   tall. She liked computers.

  

   When they met on-line, the 21-year-old Theorem was at a crossroad in

   her youth. She had spent a year and a half at university studying

   mathematics. Unfortunately, the studies had not gone well. The truth

   be told, her second year of university was in fact the first year all

   over again. A classmate had introduced her to Altos on the

   university's computers. Not long after she struck up a relationship

   with Electron, she dropped out of uni all together and enrolled in a

   secretarial course. After that, she found a secretarial job at a

   financial institution.

  

   Theorem and Electron talked on Altos for hours at a time. They talked

   about everything--life, family, movies, parties--but not much about

   what most people on Altos talked about--hacking. Eventually, Electron

   gathered up the courage to ask Theorem for her voice telephone number.

   She gave it to him happily and Electron called her at home in

   Lausanne. They talked. And talked. And talked. Soon they were on the

   telephone all the time.

  

   Seventeen-year-old Electron had never had a girlfriend. None of the

   girls in his middle-class high school would give him the time of day

   when it came to romance. Yet here was this bright, vibrant girl--a

   girl who studied maths--speaking to him intimately in a melting French

   accent. Best of all, she genuinely liked him. A few words from his

   lips could send her into silvery peals of laughter.

  

   When the phone bill arrived, it was $1000. Electron surreptitiously

   collected it and buried it at the bottom of a drawer in his bedroom.