Day 2 - The Exploit, Such As It Was

OK, we (Keith, Tom, and I) had ourselves a hack. What did we have?

Well, in those years, and running on the IBM 1800, was a scripting language called NUTran (for Nebraska University Translator). Nutran was an equivalent of BASIC, which was in its early years too. BASIC comes into play, in this story, later. NUTran supported the existence of 99 text files, each file which could hold some number (details escape me but not terribly high) of lines of code, which would be the private library of anyone so deemed by the college as being important enough to have a file. In reality, anybody who would speak to Harris, Harry, or Tom, with any seriousness, could have a file.

One numbered file = one password. The passwords being setup by Harry or Tom, and stored on punch cards in a pack stored in the Vault (with the mirror copy left on disk, for validating access to one of the numbered files). Come to think of it, we may have had access to the Vault, I seem to remember knowledge of where the Key was in Tom's office was a pretty commonly known secret. But we had no interest in the Vault, just the Password File.

So, of those 99 files, what did we find? Maybe a dozen or so professors, and another dozen or so students, had files (some left behind after graduation). This was a pretty small college (less than a thousand students IIRC), and there wasn't even a full Computer curriculum (my major was Physics, later changed to Physics / Computer Science, emphasis remaining as Physics). No scandalous secrets, certainly nothing compared to what we have today. A couple professors had games, one may have had some interesting phone numbers, maybe half a dozen may have had class notes. No exam forms or answers, no naughty pictures (graphics were just a dream then), no nothing really. Ho hum.

But entertainment being what it was at the time, we enjoyed our first few days of The Hack. We were nerds (the name nerd was just coming into existence then), and proud to have found a secret that we could enjoy. So we enjoyed ourselves.


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