2600: The Hacker Quarterly

cult of the dead cow


2600: The Hacker Quarterly is an American publication that specializes in publishing technical information on a variety of subjects including telephone switching systems, Internet protocols and services, as well as general news concerning the computer ‘underground’ and left wing, and sometimes (but not recently), anarchist issues.

The magazine’s name comes from the phreaker discovery in the 1960s that the transmission of a 2600 hertz tone (which could be produced perfectly with a plastic toy whistle given away free with Cap’n Crunch cereal—discovered by friends of John Draper) over a long-distance trunk connection gained access to ‘operator mode’ and allowed the user to explore aspects of the telephone system that were not otherwise accessible.

The magazine was given its name by David Ruderman, who co-founded the magazine with his college friend, Eric Corley. It was first published in 1984, coinciding with the book of the same name and the break-up of AT&T. Ruderman ended his direct involvement with the magazine three years later. The magazine is published and edited by its co-founder Emmanuel Goldstein (a pen name of Eric Corley and allusion to George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’). ‘2600’ is released on the first Friday of the month following a season change, January, April, July and October. It offers free advertising for subscribers. Incarcerated subscribers often take out personal ads seeking new friends and penpals.

In the usage of ‘2600’ and affiliates, the often loaded term ‘hacking’ refers to Grey Hat hacking, which is generally understood to be any sort of utilization or manipulation of technology which goes above and beyond the capabilities inherent to the design of a given application. This usage attempts to maintain neutrality, as opposed to the politically charged and often contentious terms White Hat hacking, which is designated as hacking motivated exclusively by good intentions (e.g. enhancing the performance of a device or exposing the vulnerabilities of a security system for the benefit of the system administrator), or Black Hat hacking, which is designated as hacking motivated exclusively by bad or selfish intentions (e.g. stealing valuable information or exacting revenge through technological sabotage).


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