Steve Jobs’ First Business Was Selling Blue Box That Allowed Users To Make Free Calls Illegally


blue box steve jobs wozniakShort Bytes: The Blue box was designed in 1972 by Jobs’ close friend and future co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak. Marketing man Steve Jobs came up with the idea of selling those boxes to the public. They even made around $6000 but they had to give up the idea of Blue box venture eventually.

The blue box worked by producing certain tones that were used in the telephone system to switch long distance calls. These blue boxes were in sync with AT&T telephone services on 2600 Hz. So, one can make any long distance call using these boxes.

A user could use the blue box to enter into the operator mode. Once entered into the operator mode, More privileges were assigned to the user automatically. And then, he can use the blue box to route the call as per his wish and wherever he wanted to. This all service was for free and extremely difficult to trace, making blue boxes a popular item amongst various criminal elements.

Steve Jobs and Wozniak were so fascinated by the idea of the blue box. Steve Job explained in one his interview-

We were so fascinated by them (blue boxes) that Woz and I figured out how to build one. We built the best one in the world; the first digital blue box in the world. We would give them to our friends and use them ourselves. And you know, you rapidly run out of people you want to call. But it was the magic that two teenagers could build this box for $100 worth of parts and control 100’s of billions of dollars of infrastructure in the entire telephone network in the whole world.

Experiences like that taught us the power of ideas. The power of understanding that if you could build this box, you could control 100’s of billions of dollars around the world, that’s a powerful thing. If we wouldn’t have made blue boxes, there would have been no Apple.

Steve Jobs and Wozniak, however, stopped making the blue boxes after they were nearly caught by the police. So, eventually they had to give up on the idea of the venture, but reportedly they made about $6000 selling the blue boxes.

Image | Wikipedia

To add more fun to the Blue box story, Wozniak claims he once was able to prank-call the Pope, posing as Henry Kissinger. The Pope, unfortunately, was sleeping at the time, so he wasn’t able to talk to him directly. Draper claims he once successfully prank-called President Nixon using his own blue box.

With the passing time, telephone system throughout the world saw a new face and almost everything was digitized. However, blue box surely gave Apple co-founders nice memories to talk about.

Here is the Steve Jobs Interview about the Blue Box Story:

Read another interesting storySteve Wozniak: “Steve Jobs and I Were Robbed at Gunpoint Outside a Pizza Place”

Amar Shekhar

Amar Shekhar

A passionate adventure traveller over and Author of the book 'The Girl from the Woods'.
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