In the late 1970s, hackers forged a social media network using the dominant audio tech of the time — the telephone

A vintage landline phone
A vintage landline phone
Photo: Busà Photography/Getty Images

POV: You’re a 14-year-old kid in Atlanta. It’s 1978, and the internet hasn’t been invented yet, so you mostly get your kicks over the phone. You love to call up your local radio station, WQXI, to request your favorite oldies. This time, however, the line’s been disconnected. A prerecorded message plays in your handset instead. QXI’s AM call-in number is now 741–0790, and QXI’s FM call-in number is… Just as you’re about to hang up, you hear something weird: After the recorded message ends and just before it loops again, you hear someone else on the line. They’re yelling “Hello…

Patricia Crowther’s ex-husband coded her cave maps into one of the first hit adventure games in the 1970s, and she had no idea

Photo illustration. Photos: Tennessee Virtual Archive; Mammoth Cave National Park/Facebook

Claire L. Evans is the author of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet.

The longest cave in the world is in central Kentucky. Its limestone passages stretch 400 miles beneath the earth in twisting patterns as intricate as the roots of the ancient hickory forests above. Within, cavers skirt bottomless pits, pass fountains of orange stone, and discover deep, icy subterranean rivers. Between the sunlit world and the depths below, white mist swirls at ankle height, like the breath of ghosts.

Kentuckians have fought bitterly to control access to the secrets of Mammoth Cave…

Claire L. Evans

Into old technology and new biology. Author of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet (Penguin, 2018).

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