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Fans raise cash to help phone phreaker John Draper, aka Cap‘n Crunch

An online fundraiser for legendary phone phreaker John Draper, better known as Cap'n Crunch, has passed its target $5,000 in just three days. Draper himself doesn't even know who started the fundraiser, but the money is intended to help with his medical bills. According to a recent blog post, he suffers from both degenerative spine disease and C. Diff, an inflammation of the colon. In conjunction with others in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Draper figured out that a toy whistle given out in boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal emitted a tone at 2600 Hertz. By pure coincidence, that happened to be the tone AT&T used to reset its trunk lines. As a result, Draper became a legend in the nascent world of phone phreaking, a predecessor to early personal computer hacking. These days, Draper has become something of an itinerant hacker. A 2007 profile of him in the Wall Street Journal described his "one-room apartment beside a four-lane expressway" in Southern California. It was a place "in squalor, with open cereal boxes, clothes in trash bags, computers, and old newspapers strewn about." Draper's come a long way since his heyday decades ago. In 1971, he and his fellow phreakers’ exploits drew the attention of journalist Ron Rosenbaum, then writing for Esquire magazine, who penned a lengthy story on the subject. When Steve Wozniak, then a student at UC Berkeley, read the article, he invited Draper to his dorm room. Shockingly, Draper showed up and proceeded to teach Wozniak, and then Steve Jobs, how to build a "blue box," a device that would produce the 2600 Hertz tone. via Ars Technica.

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