The World’s Very First Tech Hack
- When Hack Happened: 1903
- Who Did It: Nevil Maskelyne
The year was 1903 and the “father of the modern radio,” Guglielmo Marconi, was stationed on a cliff. He was preparing to show off his version of the modern telegraph to the Royal Academy of Sciences. As Marconi was reading his fingers to send a message more than 300 miles across airwaves, his machine began pulsing strongly on its receiving end. The decoder managed to spell out “RATS” several times before the machine started getting random limericks.
The first was “there was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.” Although not bad when read, it was pronounced quite rudely. More random quotes began to follow. It was found that a wireless engineer called Nevil Maskelyne was behind the hack. He worked for the Eastern Telegraph Company and did this hack for a reason. He claimed that telegraph messages weren’t private, which he proved to be true. Eventually, the telegraph died off when “telephones” came to be.
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