http://www.thestandard.com/article/0,1902,28349,00.html By Boris Groendahl Berlin Bureau Chief July 30, 2001 The year is 1981. IBM still has to introduce its first Personal Computer. The movie "WarGames" and Steven Levys book "Hackers," which will make the self-description of alternative computer nerds a household name in the U.S, are two years away. In Western Berlin, in the offices of the left-wing daily "die tageszeitung," fringe computer hobbyists are sitting at a conference table, sharing their knowledge of early computers and computer networks. They followed the call of Wau Holland, a bearded, balding man in dungarees who looks more like an eco-warrior than an electronics enthusiast. The assembled group is about to found the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and go down in computing history. Twenty years later, the CCC now has to continue without its honorary president Wau Holland, also known as Herwart Holland-Moritz. Holland suffered a stroke in late May and fell into a coma; he died Sunday morning, age 49. Read today, Hollands editorial that appeared in the first issue of CCCs magazine "Datenschleuder" (roughly: "data sling") back in 1984 appears almost visionary. For him and for the CCC, the computer was already not merely a technology but "the most important new medium." He held that "all existing media will be increasingly networked through computers, a networking which creates a new quality of media." The first and foremost goal of the hackers association was to promote this new medium, by "distributing wiring diagrams and kits for cheap and universal modems." What should have earned the CCC a medal for the advancement of the information society, however, got him in conflict with the arcane German telecom law. At the time, as Holland remembered later, "the prolongation of a telephone cable was considered worse than setting off an atomic explosion." Involving everybody, not just big government and big business, into the information revolution, ways always Hollands and the CCCs main goal. Its first famous hack was performed 1984 on Germanys first online service Btx, an atavistic network operated by the German postal service. The CCC found a security hole in the network, but the postal service didnt react to the warning. So Holland and his colleague Steffen Wernry logged in, masquerading as a German savings bank, and downloaded their own billable Btx page all night long. When the tab got to 134,000 deutschmarks, they stopped the program and called German TV Btx had its first scandal only months after its launch, and it wouldnt recover for more than a decade. The Btx hack, as it became known later, would become a pattern for every CCC action. Holland, in particular, was at least as media-savvy as he as he was computer literate. Whenever the CCC hacked into regions he wasnt supposed to see, he sought protection by seeking public attention, and used them to warn of weak security and insufficient data protection. Though only a few of Waus CCC comrades shared his political background most joined the club as regular electronics nerds he shaped the German hackers association into a unique institution, incomparable with the U.S. hacker scene. The CCC is different from both the technology-oriented Homebrew Computer Club that gave birth to the PC in the '70s, and the cracker gangs that dominated media attention in the early '90s. Holland taught his fellow CCCers to never hack for profit, to always be open about what they were up to, and to fight for an open information society. He was deeply embarrassed when some CCCers sold their discoveries from within the U.S. military computer network to the KGB. This incident and the subsequent discussions in the club brought the next generation to the CCCs helm. While the new leadership has a less strict moralistic, more postmodern sense of hacking, it remains true to the CCCs political objectives. Holland became the clubs honorary president. Under his stewardship, the CCC gained considerable status in German politics, with its speakers invited by the parliament, telecoms firms, banks and even the secret service. An online condolence book for Holland has over 450 entries so far. http://www.digitalis.org/wau/list.phtml - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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