G-Files were little text files that taught you how to create bombs from household chemicals, hack UNIX systems and make free long distance calls. Little did I know that these files were often written by fellow adolescents who probably didn't even have a driver's license. However, the information contained in G-Files was occasionally legit. In fact, in college, I used UNIX hacks from my BBS days to retrieve passwords on the campus mainframe!

In no time, I was using my new toys to re-enact scenes from the movie WarGames. I wasn't hacking into top military defense systems; I was dialing phone numbers in sequence, looking for other computers with modems in my area. Before long, I had found the computers for the local donut shop, the supermarket and a rival high school's heating system. As a power-hungry 14-year-old, I naturally cranked up the other school's temperature to a balmy 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I couldn't imagine why the phone number had been disconnected the next day.

Even back then, though, the most thrilling aspect of online life was meeting your friends in person for the first time. One hacker I met, who called himself The Culprit, was an extremely talented guy. He was a jack-of-all-trades type of person, good at pretty much anything he set his mind to.

In the wee hours of the morning, The Culprit and I would head into his car, crank up his favorite Bangles tune and seek out the trash dumpsters of high tech companies, looking for hardware they'd discarded. He and I found all kinds of stuff: floppy disks (which were like gold), discarded hard drives and copies of Lotus 1,2,3. The Culprit ended up turning his dumpster-diving hobby into a thriving business reselling computer parts at trade shows.

When my fellow BBS-scene hackers and I turned 18, we gave up our outlaw ways. However, the skills I developed got me hired by an independent game studio. The company was staffed with the crackers, phone phreaks and hackers who had also learned to apply their skills to design the very games we used to steal. Nearly 15 years later, I was again among my own kind.

Guy Stevens, author of College 101: The Book Your College Does Not Want You To Read, is a working industry professional. He has a degree in computer engineering from a top gun engineering college. He has developed software for the following industries: publishing, telecommunications, mobile gaming, casual gaming and casino gaming.

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