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Happy 25th birthday to the computer virus!

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."

Tags: aniversary, Elk Cloner, ElkCloner, news, rich skrenta, RichSkrenta, topix, virus, virus birthday, VirusBirthday