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Some typical tricks used between the 1950s and 1970s included: 9-1-11.
Phreaking has since become closely linked with computer hacking.
Phone phreaking got its start in the late 1950s in the United States. Phone phreaks spent a lot of time dialing around the telephone network to understand how the phone system worked, engaging in activities such as listening to the pattern of tones to figure out how calls were routed, reading obscure telephone company technical journals, learning how to impersonate operators and other telephone company personnel, digging through telephone company trash bins to find "secret" documents, sneaking into telephone company buildings at night and wiring up their own telephones, building electronic devices called blue boxes, black boxes, and red boxes to help them explore the network and make free phone calls, hanging out on early conference call circuits and "loop arounds" to communicate with one another and writing their own newsletters to spread information.
Before 1984, long-distance telephone calls were a premium item in the United States, with strict regulations.
By re-creating these tones, phreaks could switch calls from the phone handset, allowing free calls to be made around the world.
To ease the creation of these tones, electronic tone generators known as blue boxes became a staple of the phreaker community, including future Apple Inc. The blue box era came to an end with the ever-increasing use of computerized phone systems, which sent dialing information on a separate, inaccessible channel.