Reading Jeff Atwood’s latest blog post brought a flood of memories rushing back to me. When he mentioned Clifford Stoll, I was transported back to 1989/1990 when Cliff’s book about how he captured a KGB hacker, The Cuckoo’s Egg, was first published. Shortly after, the ABC had a special show dedicated to telling Cliff’s story.
At the time, I was fascinated – I watched the show and read the book many times each. I’d already been exposed to computers a lot through my father (I programmed a bookkeeping system when I was 10, which I’m convinced was a big reason I received a scholarship to Shore), but I think the excitement that this show generated for me was the subconcious driving force behind wanting to work with computers, even though I went through a lengthy adolescent phase where I tried to ignore them. Cliff was a very engaging and humble figure. His explanations of the techniques he used to catch the hacker appealed to my logical senses, but were also very dramatic. And it was about connected networks and security – while I was well familiar with online life since dad ran three BBS’s from home, this was years before the Internet hit the collective consciousness.
It was such a pleasant surprise to be thinking about such a pivotal part of my childhood, and indirectly my adult life, I had to note it here. Thanks Cliff!