New York: AT&T. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITIONS IN ORIGINAL PAPER WRAPS OF THE 1954 & 1960 ‘INFAMOUS BELL PAPERS’ (the Phreaking Manuals) – THE PUBLICALLY PUBLISHED BELL SYSTEM PAPERS THAT UNKNOWINGLY GAVE AWAY ‘THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM.’ Without Bell realizing it, the papers laid out for anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of electronics EXACTLY HOW TO MAKE FREE LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALLS during an era when they were very expensive. EXCEPTIONALLY SCARCE IN WRAPS & TOGETHER.
In November, 1954, the Bell System Technical Journal published an article -- the 1st paper offered – “that described the process used for routing telephone calls over trunk lines with the then-current signaling system” (“Phreaking”). “The most common signaling on the then long-distance network was multi-frequency (MF) control. The specific frequencies required were unknown to the general public until publication of this paper describing the methods and frequencies used [for] signaling. “The journal…found its way to various college campuses across the US. With this one article, the Bell System accidentally gave away the "keys to the kingdom" and the intricacies of the phone system were at the disposal of people with a knowledge of electronics” (Wikipedia). However, the information in the paper provided enormous but not complete access.
Then Bell did it again. In 1960 the other half of the equation was revealed in the 2nd paper offered here, this containing “the frequencies used for the digits used for the actual routing codes. With these two sets of information, the phone system was at the disposal of anyone with a basic knowledge of electronics. Once Bell realized what they had done, representatives visited most college campuses and physically cut out the pages that had the tone frequencies, but the information had already been made public and the error was irreversible” (“Phreaking”).
The 1960 paper “laid bare the technical inner workings of the long-distance telephone network with clarity, completeness, and detail: how the long-distance switching machines sang to each other with single-frequency (SF) and multifrequency tones (MF), how 2,600 Hz was used to indicate whether a telephone had answered, what the frequencies were of the tones that made up the MF digits, how overseas calls were made, even including simplified schematic diagrams for the electrical circuits necessary to generate the tones used to control the network. [For anyone who understood it, it] was all there. Nothing was hidden” (Lapsley, Exploding the Phone).
Ralph Barclay, an engineering student, happened to see the 1960 journal at his college library. “By the time Barclay finished reading it, the vulnerability in the network had crystallized in his mind” (ibid). And he was right: the paper laid out exactly how to make free phone calls. “The ability to absorb 64 pages of dry, technical mumbo jumbo and spot the vulnerability is a rare one. The engineers from Bell Labs who designed the system and wrote the article didn’t see it. Thousands of engineers in the future would read that article and not see it, but 18 year old Barclay did” (ibid).
Suddenly, a cultural subset known as ‘phreakers’ knew how to manipulate telephone call routing. “The term first referred to groups who had reverse engineered the system of tones used to route long-distance calls. By re-creating these tones, phreaks could switch calls from the phone handset, allowing free calls to be made around the world…Electronic tone generators known as blue boxes became a staple of the phreaker community, a group of people that included future Apple cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
ALSO INCLUDED: "The Secrets of the Little Blue Box" by Ron Rosenbaum and published in Esquire, Oct. 1971, pp.117-125 with pp. 222- 226. Item #1318
CONDITION: 2 complete issues in original printed blue wrappers. The 1954 issue is a bit faded at the edges and spine, otherwise fine. The 1960 issue has a red library stamp on the front wrap and the spine have been professionally repaired; internally, though, it too is fine. The papers are housed in a custom clamshell case gilt lettered on the front board and at the spine.