John “Captain Crunch” Draper: interview


Cover photo: checking in on Foursquare

Some of you may remember that I started my US trip with a huge blast, which is meeting John “Captain Crunch” Draper, a well known figure of Silicon Valley history, creator of blue box.

You can find many “Crunchman stories” on the internet, most of them cover technology and phreaking related history. Meeting him was a great opportunity to ask few questions which are little bit less technical and thankfully I am privileged to host a short interview here. Thank you John!

What comes to your mind when you see phone booth today?
John Draper: I say “never leave a payphone untouched”.

This was your 13th Burning Man. What do you like the most about this years edition?
John Draper: I was at a really good camp, plus I had no physical pain.

And what do you like about the event in general?
John Draper: The burn is very tribal and spiritual for me.

At some point of your life you were travelling on buses and trains and programming at the same time. What was the thing all about?
John Draper: I wanted to travel and yet work and make money. It was just when the Internet went mainstream… 1994.

As far as I remember you gave the whole thing a name which is…
John Draper: I called the product “truss”, as most of the development was done on trains and busses.

What keeps you excited and busy now? Everybody want’s to do a startup today. What is your idea?
John Draper: Not really sure right now. Not getting much motivated writing programs. Cannot compete with programmers from India and Eastern Europe only asking for $15/hour.

When was the first time you met Steve Wozniak and on what occasion?
John Draper: It was at the UC Berkeley dorm, when a friend of mine from KPFA called me while I was on the air at KKUP, who asked me to see him because he had the first digital blue box.

And on what occasion you met him the last time?
Not sure the last time met him, but I think it was at our en2go offices in Burbank. Because he was on our board of directors.

You were an accidental witness of nuclear weapon test. What was it like?
John Draper: Like looking into hell itself.

Things you did in past inspired many after you. What would be your word of advice to todays aspiring hackers, developers and founders?
John Draper: Encrypt your personal communications. Hack legally! Pen testing, things like that.

On the road to Burning Man 2013: early morning sun is red because of the smoke from recent Yosemite fire


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