Beating the System: How a 1960s Whiz Kid Tried to Break the Subway Riding Speed Record with One Token and a Computer the Size of an Elevator Car

In 1966 Peter Samson, a railroad buff and M.I.T. computer programmer, did something no one had ever tried before: he hacked the NYC subway system! He programmed a computer – at the time, a rare and exotic piece of machinery about the size of an elevator car  to calculate the optimum route for riding the entire system in the shortest amount of time. Then he and a band of candy-bar-and-hot-dog-fueled schoolmates put the itinerary to the test. When their first attempt failed to break the record, they tried a far more elaborate and audacious plan the next year. The publicity they generated fueled a craze that made the late-1960s the Golden Age of Subway Races. 

In a multimedia presentation Manhattan Borough Historian Michael Miscione will recount the two record attempts. He will show portions of a recently videotaped interview with 
Mr. Samson so that the audience can hear much of the story “straight from the horse’s mouth.” He will also show archival still images and never-before-seen film footage that was shot during one of the races. 

This presentation will be be part of the launch of PLATFORM, a
 new public program series from the New York Transit Museum. In addition to Mr. Miscione's presentation, the evening will feature live performances, stop animation, Greek choruses, puns, yarn bombing, and a walk on the moon  all set against the backdrop of the museum's 1936 subway station home. 


Beating the System: How a 1960s Whiz Kid Tried to Break the Subway Riding Speed Record with One Token and a Computer the Size of an Elevator Car
Thursday, April 10 
Exact time TBD, but presentations run 6:30p to 9:00p
New York Transit Museum
Corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn Heights 
Map, directions, etc. at the Transit Museum home page
$10 (Here's a tip! Use checkout code FFCREATE14 for a $5 discount friend-of-the-MBH rate!)
To see a full listing of the evening's presentations and buy tickets, go to the PLATFORM tumblr page  


Photo: Andrew Jennings, Richard Gruen, Peter Samson, David Anderson, Jeffery Dwork, and George Mitchell (left to right) examine their log book during their 1966 record attempt. Photo courtesy of the New York Post.