By Clifford Stoll
"The Cuckoo's Egg" is a story of persistence, love for one's work and is just plain
The story starts out with Clifford Stoll being "recycled" to a computer
Cliff, as he is affectionately called, is a long-haired ex-hippie that works at
Lawrence Berkeley Lab.
He originally was an astronomer, but since his grant wore
out, he became a mainframe master.
He was glad that instead of throwing him out
into the unemployment office, the Lab recycled their people and downstairs he went,
to the computer lab.
A few days after he becomes the master of the mainframe, his colleague, Wayne
Graves, asks him to figure out a 75cent glitch that is in the accounting system.
It turns out that a computer guru, "Seventek" seems to be in town.
None of his
closest friends know that.
The Lab becomes suspicious that it might be a hacker.
To fill you in who Seventek is, he is a computer guru that created a number of
programs for the Berkeley UNIX system.
At the time, he was in England far from
computers and civilization.
The crew does not what to believe that it would be
Seventek, so they start to look what the impostor is doing.
Cliff hooks up a few
computers to the line that comes from the Tymnet.
Tymnet is a series of fiber-
optic cables that run from a major city to another major city.
So if you were in
LA and wanted to hook up to a computer in the Big Apple you could call long
distance, have a lot of interference from other callers and have a slow connection,
or you could sign-up to Tymnet and dial locally, hop on the optic cable and cruise
at a T-3 line.
The lab had only five Tymnet lines so Cliff could easily monitor
every one with five computers, teletypes, and five printers.
That was the
difficult part, where to get all that equipment.
At graduate school they taught
Cliff to improvise.
It was a Friday, and not many people come to work on Saturday.
Since it was easier to make up an excuse than to beg for anything, he "borrowed"
everything he needed.
Then programmed his computer to beep twice when someone
logged on from the Tymnet lines.
The thing is, since he was sleeping under his
desk, he would gouge his head on the desk drawer.
Also, many people like to check
their E-mail very late at night, so not to get interference. Because of that his
terminal beeped a lot!
The next day, he was woken up by the cable operator.
said that he must have smelled like a dying goat.
Any way, the hacker only logged
on once during the night, but left an 80 foot souvenir behind.
Cliff estimated a
two to three hours roaming through the three million dollar pieces of silicon that