Exploding the Phone

  • by Phil Lapsley
  • Narrated by Johann North
  • 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Before smartphones, back even before the Internet and personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world’s largest machine: the telephone system. Starting with Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary "harmonic telegraph", by the middle of the 20th century the phone system had grown into something extraordinary, a web of cutting-edge switching machines and human operators that linked together millions of people like never before. But the network had a billion-dollar flaw, and once people discovered it, things would never be the same.
Exploding the Phone tells this story in full for the first time. It traces the birth of long-distance communication and the telephone, the rise of AT&T’s monopoly, the creation of the sophisticated machines that made it all work, and the discovery of Ma Bell’s Achilles’ heel. Phil Lapsley expertly weaves together the clandestine underground of "phone phreaks" who turned the network into their electronic playground, the mobsters who exploited its flaws to avoid the feds, the explosion of telephone hacking in the counterculture, and the war between the phreaks, the phone company, and the FBI.
The product of extensive original research, Exploding the Phone is a groundbreaking, captivating book.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Story along with Great Technical Research

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. A great book for anyone interested in technology and/or geek culture. This book does a great job of covering the phone network in the age of phone phreaking. The topic of network hacking with all its issues is well researched and expertly woven into the various story lines.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Exploding the Phone?

Finding out from many of the cases how proprietary technical details of the phone network were easily available to anyone

What does Johann North bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator was competent with technical terminology, both with respect to pronounciation and voice inflection.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

This remains one of my favorite books, in large part due to how well the author blends together research, technical material and a great story. I'm from this era and a lot of this information was new to me.

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- Elsa Braun "Elsa Braun"

Phreaker 4 Lyfe

I'm a VoIP admin, and I firmly believe that you can't know where you're going without understanding your history.

This book illustrates the phreaker scene and telephone system vividly. I couldn't stop listening, and now I have to catch up on my podcasts.
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- Nick Rosario

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-16-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios