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I wrote this maybe 20 years ago. It was published in "2600."
Phacking: A Brief History of Hacking the US Postal System
By Alien Time Agent, Seraf and Waldo
Phacking (postal hacking, pronounced PAH-king) has enjoyed a glorious but
obscure history in the United States, beginning with the godfather of phacking,
Samuel Osgood. It wasn't until the summer of 1969 that Zip C0de brought
phacking into the public eye. While he was only 20 years of age at the time, he
had already caught the attention of authorities. For Zip C0de, C-Note, PhedEx and the
other brave pioneers, here is a brief history of hacking the US postal system.
1789: Samuel Osgood named first United States Postmaster General under Constitution.
1793: Postal employee Norman Beemish kills three coworkers and injures six
with bow-and-arrow, becoming first person to "go postal".
1847: Prepayment by postage stamps becomes law. James M. Rolk, the first stamp
forger, discovers that a steady hand means cheap postage.
1859: Air Mail invented when John Wise flies 150 pieces of mail from Layfette, Indiana
to Crawfordsville, a distance of 30 miles. Unfortunately, he was aiming
for New York City.
1860: The Pony Express established. Death toll mounts and it ends.
1870: Martha Bridgefaulks packs herself into a shipping crate and mails herself
to California in an effort to save money.
1911: Postal Saving System begins to compete with banks. Fails within 55 years;
banks slips prove as easy to fake as stamps.
1928: The "USPS Worm," a rapidly-reproduction chain letter, tangles nearly every
post office in the country, exploiting the Gnu Mailbag security hole.
It originated at Harvard University.
1929: Pneumatic tubes are popularized in Paris, New York, Berlin and London.
Found to be an excellent Weinerdog Transferral System, resulting in its misuse
and quick failure.
1941: Reduction of passenger train usage leads to the Highway Post Office
1955: Photocopying stamps proves cheap and easy method of mail hacking.
1959: Missile mail tested by a launch from a submarine to mainland Florida.
Subseqent tests all end poorly -- worst of all a Texas to Mexico venture
that knocked a hole in a Mexican building. Thousands of pieces of mail
were held by the Mexican government.
1960: Facimile mail is tested by the US postal service. It takes them twenty years
to realize that it's a bad idea.
1963: Postmasters of Doom (PoD), a Texas mail hacking group, are arrested for
their exploitation of the now-famous "E7" routing hole. All are released
for information they provide regarding flaws in the new Zone
Improvement Plan.
1964: Increase in domestic air mail leads to end of highway mail. Makes travel
via US Mail that much more attractive.
1969: Dan Davis, aka "Zip C0de," a widely recognized postal hacker and
member of the Pueblo, Colorado phacking group "The Postmasters," coins
the term "phacker" in his organzation's magazine, "E7". "E7" lasted just
five issues, but it linked hundreds of phackers who had previously
believed themselves to be acting alone.
1970: The Postal Reorganization Act signed into law, turning the post office
into a government-owned corporation. This ends government control
over the USPS.
1973: Fredrick W. Smith, aka "PhedEx", starts Federal Express to compete with the USPS
service. Federal Express is the first service to offer overnight delivery. It proves
immediately successful due to the phacking experience of PhedEx.
1974: The Postmasters' East Coast Division splits off to form the Postmasters of
Doom, taking with them many of the original members of The
Postmasters, notably "Dr. Sort", who was working as the Postmaster
General of the Nassau Division of the New York Postal Service. Other
members included Post Officer, X-Press, C-Rate, and Maleman.
1976: Marvin Runyon, aka "The Courier", is caught in an attempted bust on The
Postmasters. He takes the fall for the entire group, and serves
eight months of his thirteen-year-sentence before agreeing to work for
the USPS, under intense pressure from the authorities. The property of
his business, Courier Systems, was confiscated in the bust. (In what many
legal experts have called "the worst violation of the Sherman
Anti-Trust Act.") He never recovered his stamps, scales, envelopes
or sponges.
1977: Zip C0de is arrested for mail fraud at a cost of $573,000 to the
government, ultimately proving that he did, in fact, owe $0.15 to the USPS.
Despite rumors that he'd used the now-infamous Double Stripe bug, it
was actually a case of social engineering.
19XX: Dick D. James, aka "C-Rate" and still-active PoD member, starts Roadway Package
1983: Maleman creates the ZIP+4 presort, an idea which is quickly adopted by the USPS.
Maleman receives an undisclosed sum from the USPS, some of which he uses to
outfit PoD with new equipment, including barcode scanners, ultraviolet printers,
holographers and computers.
1986: The propagation of stamp scanners reduces required manpower for the USPS.
Phackers discover that a smear of vaseline where the stamp would be permits
free postage. USPS responds with the introduction of proprietary
ultraviolet scanning technology.
1990: Universal Product Coding introduced for business-class mail. The Postmasters
quickly discover and exploit the two millimeter third-bar flaw.
1992: PoD Security Solutions is formed, a private security consulting firm which
enjoys immediate success.
1994: USPS introduces new eagle logo at an estimated cost of $65,000,000.
1995: Maleman, one of the founding members of PoD, goes underground, decrying the
"commercialization" of phacking. He is suspected to be somewhere in Manhattan,
running NonFunc, a mysterious cutting-edge phacking group, which is the first
group to mix sendmail hackers and USPS phackers.
1998: Phacking flourishes, with as many as fifteen dedicated, active groups in the
United States. This is largely ascribed to the widespread use of technology
including ultraviolet inks, Optical Character Recognition, drum-based sorting
and standard barcoding, all of which offer new and exciting possibilities to today's
modern, cosmopolitan phacker.
"Phacking: A Brief History of Hacking the US Postal System" is a parody, and is not to be taken as fact. While some aspects are drawn on reality, events involving specific individuals have been invented.
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