This year marks the 25th aniversary of a moment which changed computing forever; The first self-replicating (though non-malicious) computer virus, Elk Cloner
. The author (who was 15 at the time, but is all growed up now)
, reminisces on his blog
, "Back then nothing was networked. We had these computers in a lab, and there was software for them on floppy disks. You stick in the disk and run the software. Simple. The aha
moment was when I realized I could essentially get my program to move around by itself
. I could give it its own motive force
, by having it hide in the resident RAM of the machine between floppy changes, and hitching a ride onto the next floppy that would be inserted. Whoa. That would be cool."
You can only imagine the gravity of that "aha moment", as Edison said, "Genius is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration." Elk Cloner's author Rich Skrenta
also has a few words on the essence
of the hack, that 1% moment of inspiration that leverages a giant mass of energy hidden behind its magic doors, "[it] isn't just realizing you can use a system in a new, unexpected way. It's getting a disproportionate effect from your effort. It's catalyzing potential energy stored in the system."