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From “phreaks” to Apple: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s “eureka!” moment

Like the flap of a butterfly’s wings causing a hurricane half a world away, the ripples of unintended consequences from Ron Rosenbaum’s “Secrets of the Little Blue Box” continued to spread. “You know how some articles just grab you from the first paragraph? Well, it was one of those articles,” Steve Wozniak recalls. “It was the most amazing article I’d ever read!”

Wozniak happened to pick up a copy of Esquire from his mother’s kitchen table the day before starting classes at Berkeley in the fall of 1971. Rosenbaum’s article “described a whole web of people who were doing this: the phone phreaks. They were anonymous technical people who went by fake names and lived all over the place,” he recalls. They were “outsmarting phone companies and setting up networks that nobody imagined existed.” It seemed unbelievable. And yet, he says, “I kept reading it over and over, and the more I read it, the more possible and real it sounded.”

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