This list is long but not exhaustive, there are a lot more people who belong here and offending any of them by exclusion is terrifying. I share it so that you can all see a fraction of what it took me to accomplish anything in life. You will need lots of help. Be generous, offer more than you expect in return so people will want to support you the way the have for me. I know I can never repay these folks – any of them – so I learn to pay it forward. Lots of other folks have helped out in other ways which remain undocumented but to whom I am deeply grateful.
The 1337 List
I’m not “The World’s Greatest Hacker.” There is a huge community of hackers and we rip each other off all the time. Here are some folks I’m proud to have known and been influenced by.
3ric Johanson – Responsible in part for nearly everything I have worked on. He did most of the work building the original Hackerbot. He did most of the work figuring out how to snag credit card numbers via RFID. He helped me get set up to do caller ID spoofing – to hack into people’s voice mail. 3ric ran the Hackerbot Labs, where a next generation of hackers was incubated. We we’ve worked together at Blue Origin and the Intellectual Ventures Lab.
Ben Laurie – Helped me perform the passive Bluetooth surveillance of at the “Computers Freedom & Privacy” conference. Ben wrote the code to make all the pretty map diagrams showing where everyone went. Brian Wotring & gdead inspired this by doing something similar at a previous conference. Ben is the most enlightened mind on computer security & cryptosystems, I defer to his wisdom on these topics.
Bruce Potter – Started The Shmoo Group and set a great example for me of constructive technical discourse.
H1kari – Helped build the FPGA I used to crack encryption by brute force. This device is available from Pico Computing. NRuns build the tool I used for cracking Bluetooth, and H1kari wrote the FPGA code for this.
Adam Laurie – Behind some of the truly inspiring and fun stuff I show. He has done lots of work on cloning RFIDs with the RFIDIOT project. He first described the backdoor in electronic car door locks. He first showed me how to hack hotel TV networks, always a crowd favorite.
Beetle – Came up with a lot of The Shmoo Group Wireless Weaponry projects, including the 802.11 Bounce Attack and what I think may have been the first captive portal attack.
Johnny Long – A legitimate hacker, pirate and ninja (I swear that’s not exaggeration). Johnny took the hotel TV hacking photos that I use. He also made inspirational art out of speaking publicly on hacking. He created Hackers for Charity & retired to work as a missionary in Uganda.
Mike Messick – Built the now infamous Sniper Yagi as well as the Wi-Fi Bloodhound.
Samy – Isn’t really even a hacker. He’s too good looking and three years of working out while on probation made him too buff. Still, he’s behind a number of creative and inspiring hacks, including the MySpace worm. But seriously, follow him on YouTube.
Christopher Abad – Optimized for humor and has done lots of fun stuff besides hooking SpamAssassin up to MySpace profiles to find girls he might like to date.
Toool – These folks have done most of the work to make the bumpkey lockpicking technique widely accessible and well known.
Rick Dakan – This guy is a novelist that started hanging out at hacker conferences. He’s the first one to distill the hacker mindset into “What can I make this do?” Read his books.
Frank Heidt – Frank does a fantastic job of piecing together stories about hacking events, and has shown me the pieces I needed to make them accessible. Without him I wouldn’t have the same appreciation for the Northeast Blackouts, Aurora, Stuxnet & Mirai.
Len Sassaman – Worked on privacy projects with me and others, including PGP, Mixmaster Remailers and Off the Record instant messenger. No longer with us.
Barnaby Jack – Inspirational hacker who made ATM machines rain cash. No longer with us.
The Shmoo Group – These were my hacking co-conspirators. We made something from nothing together, inspired each other and a whole generation of hackers who have long since surpassed us in leetness & lulz.
The l0pht – Role models who showed me what white hat hacking could become.
The Ghettohackers – Gave me a community of local hackers when I needed one.
I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far without support in one way or another from these people:
Neal Stephenson – Offered the most insightful tweak to my presentation, equating the malaria lifecycle diagram to a protocol diagram. Neal’s influence on me as an author, friend, thinker & coconspirator can’t be overstated.
Elan Lee – The creative genius whose work & life ethics set a bar in my mind that I strive for but expect I will never attain.
Rodney Mullen – Showed me how deep a human can go, in invention, in soul.
Chris Lee – I think I’m the only public speaker who loves his agent.
Lance Ahern – Essentially spent his life savings on my unconventional education.
Keith Rosema – Co-conspirator on innumerable projects & inventions. I learned to think like a physicist (kind of) from Keith.
Nathan Myhrvold – I learned from Nathan how to think all they way down to bits & atoms, all the way up to solving the biggest problems in the world. A polymath’s polymath, his ability to cross pollinate knowledge from disparate fields showed me again & again what exceptional thinkers are capable of.
Jeff Bezos – Showed me how to think on improbably long time horizons. Longer than lifetimes. This doesn’t come naturally, and most people will never feel free to do that.
George Dyson – I learned from George how deep every invention goes, into history. To see every invention as a series of breakthroughs over time. He brought a legacy of geniuses to life for me that made everything we do possible. Because of this, I never take credit for anything, knowing it all came before me.
Ilya Konstantin Kadrevis – Still the coolest guy in the world.
Bill Gates, Bre Pettis, Bill Scannell, Steve Johnson, Jeremy Bornstein, Ed Jung, Chris Young, Cory Doctorow, Josh Klein, Kevin Jones
Thinkers who have influenced me:
Danny Hillis – I learned everything about computers the hard way, in pieces. Like puzzle pieces, collected over decades. From Danny I learned how to put them all together.
Lowell Wood – A marvel of first principles thinking. His example showed me how to start with what is technically possible and work backwards to what is practical.
Byron Reese – Wrote the books I wish I had written, and that I wish you would read.
John Perry Barlow – Showed me how to be an activist for freedom on the internet. Losing him has hurt us all a lot.
Hal Finney, Bob Hettinga, Zooko, Tim May, Eric Hughes, Jon Callas, Lucky Green, Ian Goldberg, David Chaum, Jon Gilmore – Cypherpunks who variously influenced my thinking, shot holes in my ideas or suffered my inquisition.
Neri Oxman – Gave me the evidence I needed to delineate art from craft.
Steve Jobs – Showed me by articulation & example how to dedicate my life to advancing technology for people.
Paul Graham, Kevin Kelly, Stuart Brand, Alan Kay, Tim O’Reilly, Stephen Pinker, Jaron Lanier, Joi Ito.
There are people with a rare gift to bridge the gap between egos. They are so valuable and important and rare. They are so important to my own success and too often people try to take advantage of them. Accept what they give and demand nothing more.
Linda Stone – Scooped me up and shared her world class collection of nerds with me.
Mike Hawley – Curated the most extraordinary people on Earth and placed me among them. No longer with us.
Ken Rutkowski – Always generous, including me in his vast brotherhood.
Yossi Vardi – Showed me how to build community amongst people who are sometimes too smart for their own good.