90s UK Hacking Scene Book – FAQ

This page isn’t advertising the book for sale, we’re a long way from that, nor is it a pitch for a publisher (or an editor, or proof readers) that’s all covered.

This is just to help me explain to potential contributors what I’m looking to do, why I’m doing it and why I’ve zero interest in stitching them up for 30 year old crimes


30-ish years ago, I was on the peripheries of the UK Underground BBS Scene. I spent my evenings learning about all aspects of computer, phone, cellular and people hacking . Whilst I was never a key player, I have plenty of stories to tell from those days, that I felt had never been told and as we’re all getting on an memories are fading, I wanted some of the recording before they are lost forever.

There are plenty of books etc on some of the people in the UK scene in the 1990s who gained media attention by getting caught (Schifreen and Gold, Kevin Poulson and Gary McKinnon etc) but there is virtually nothing on 8lgm, ColdFire, CyberJunkie & the Agents of a Hostile Power. There’s no mention of Dockmaster, Duk N Cover, Unauthorised Access, 1066, Beyond Phear and the other UK H/P/V/C/A BBSs, or of the Trinidad and Tobago phone chat line, John McCormac and the Black Book, of “Speccy Jon” and DNSCon.

These are the stories I wanted to research, relive and retell, but to stop it spiralling our of controls, I set three goals. Keep it 1990s, keep it UK and focus on the stories, not the people.

Why a book?

This project didn’t start life as a book. Anyone who follows me online will realise the written word is not my favoured medium to say the least.

It started life as a talk at BSides Leeds 2020, originally based on my own personal experiences, but as my memory is fading I reached out to the few contacts I had from those days and did some digging to try and get hold of people I’d not spoken to in decades, to help me out remembering some of the details.

It was great fun, the stories were coming in thick and fast and I soon had more stories to tell were already more than I could fit into an hour.

Then one evening, Mark ‘Large Cardinal’ Carney introduced me to legendary Infosec guru and old school US hacker, speaker and author Winn Schwartau. Between them they didn’t just share my passion for documenting my own little corner of Hacker History, but some how they convinced me there was enough content for a book!

The talk happened, despite me wearing a radio mic that wasn’t recording (so the audio is terrible) and a problem with the slides syncing to the recording, it is available online here. But it only scratched the surface on so many things that a book is going to allow me to put some flesh on the bones.

Update: The BSides talk is now online, but due to a miscommunication resulting in the radio mic I was wearing not being recorded, the audio quality it terrible, which coupled with my fast talking and broad Lancashire accent has made large sections unintelligible. Hopefully a subtitled and/or re-recorded version will be available at some point

Historical Record or Ripping Yarn?

I’m a hacker, not a journalist or historian and whilst documenting a part of my history is important to me, I’ve no desire to negatively impact the live of others by bringing some 30 year old skeletons out of the closet, that’s why the decision was made very early on to only disclose what people are happy to disclose. No real names if people don’t want them, no footnotes saying a former criminal is now a Fortune 500 CISO, just tell the stories as best we remember them and don’t stitch anyone up along the way?

I was around then, am I in it?

I’ve no idea, do you want to be?

I’m still at the stage of collecting stories and every new story results in me wanting to talk to more people.

It would be unfair to say at this stage who I’ve managed to get in contact with as it’s possible they may choose to be omitted from the final published version. So instead here’s a list of people I really want to chat with, some I’ve already started doing so, others I’ve tracked down but want to understand more about the stories they may be involved with before approaching them and some I have absolutely no idea where to start to track them down.

  • ColdFire (AoaHP)
  • Cyber Junkie / CJ (AoaHP)
  • Phobos
  • Pad (8lgm)
  • Gandalf (8lgm)
  • Wandii (8lgm)
  • John McCormac (Special Projects, Satellite Black Book)
  • Clanzer (Wednesday Boyz)
  • ‘Speccy Jon’ (DNSCon)
  • Simon Gardener (AAA)
  • Greytor, (AoaHP)
  • Dodgy (possibly Dodger?)
  • Eck (Dockmaster)
  • Scribbla (Duk N Cover)
  • Phantasm (Unauthorised Access)
  • DarkCyde,
  • Kry0 (BeYoND PHeaR)
  • Dr Bob (both of them)
  • Keltic Phr0st,
  • Billy,
  • Dave X,
  • Phobos
  • Mini Master,
  • n0mad,
  • Arny,
  • ATr0CiTy (1066)
  • Capn’ B (Mad Rabbit)
  • Ram Raider (New World Disorder)
  • FC
  • Anyone who was around the UK H/P/V/C/A BBS Scene or the early days of alt.ph.uk
  • Anyone who attended any of the AAA or DNSCon conferences
  • Anyone who was in one of the 2600 groups (or HackHull)
  • Anyone who recognises +44 (0)800 899 843 and used to chat in Trinidad.
  • Anyone who knows what ESN snarfing is and why the NEC P3 was legendary
  • Any UK based satellite hackers
  • Anyone with a story to tell (as long as it relates to the 90s Hacking Scene in the UK)

Just reading this has brought the memories flooding back? Got any more?

Every now again, either I or somebody else will drop something on twitter that sparks a wave of nostalgia and discussion. A few things include

I’ve got a story to tell, how do I get hold of you?

If you’re comfortable me regular ol’ email, just hit me up at glenn@pegden.com

If you prefer the privacy of protonmail then hpuk_book@protonmail.com

Or if you want a quicker way to get hold of me I’m @GlennPegden on twitter and my DMs are open