Industry News | CWP

Inside the 1983 Los Alamos Hack: Part I

January 4, 2021

January 4, 2021

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Industry News

June, 1983 — The Cold War was raging, leg warmers were in and a movie called WarGames was premiering in theaters. WarGames introduced the public to a subculture that had been thriving long before the fearsome ideas the movie’s plot dealt with. It showed the public a glimpse of something that wasn’t fully understood by the public, or even the hackers of the time. It showed a future where young, technically talented people could inadvertently shape geopolitics.

1983 turned out to be a banner year in the history of technology. Mobile phones were hitting the consumer market for the first time ever, Microsoft Word was first released, causing perpetual headaches for countless generations of suffering Americans and ARPANET began using TCP/IP which would pave the way for the Internet that we all know and hate today.

It was just after working hours on May 9th. John F. Davis, an employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory (or ‘LANL’ for short) was working from home when something unusual happened. Davis (operating under the computer account ‘087061′) was connected to the LANL network through a cutting edge VAX/VMS terminal when he received a system mail message (a more localized form of email) from a user with an odd username. This mysterious user messaged Davis directly looking for games that could be played on the network. A dumbstruck Davis, who was probably not used to being asked about games on a nuclear research network, continued the conversation.

Click here to read the remainder of the article published at Hexa.