But, he said, it wasn't his fault. Marcus doubts that the hacker was using sophisticated, costly equipment, or that the equipment was even very large, as some said at the time. It was a hack of and for its time, done for the curiosity and the glory of simply doing it. Very witty. One theory that's circulated online for years centers on a performance artist and musician named Eric Fournier.
, Later that night, during a broadcast of the Doctor Who serial Horror of Fang Rock on local PBS station WTTW, the signal was again interrupted by video of the Max Headroom impersonator, this time with distorted audio. They mutter "Oh, Jesus - here we go - yeah" before finding the prop they're looking for: a can of Pepsi. The pirate broadcasts involved a man wearing a mask of 80s pop-culture character Max Headroom. It was a totally bizarre online creation, which began to attract a cult following over the next several years. "This is ridiculous bullshit," he wrote by email. "—and hums the theme to the 1960s gonzo TV cartoon Clutch Cargo. "Was it a disgruntled former employee of WGN-TV?" "He was used to more traditional FCC cases, and felt uncomfortable doing things he hadn't done before. Some of you who've been following the case might recall that recently, that we had hinted there had been a new development in the case.. one that we might have the ability to talk about in the days and weeks ahead. The interfering signal has to be quite strong.". "Eric didn't know anything about video editing when we were in high school. After pleading guilty to charges of transmitting without a radio license, a violation of federal law, MacDougall paid a $5,000 fine and served a year-long probation.
Almost immediately, investigators connected the two bizarre broadcasts - both the 90-second interruption during Doctor Who on WTTW, and the roughly 30-second interruption of WGN-TV's news broadcast. And there are the references to WGN—the mention of Chuck Swirsky and the timing, during the sports highlights, the Tribune, and Clutch Cargo, which used to air on WGN. One tip in particular pointed to an individual who worked for a company that owned a large warehouse, which may have fit the bill. "I think the bad guy got close to the receiving end and just transmitted a signal that was received with a stronger strength than the more distant, intended signal," said Marcus. Engineers estimated that the cost of being able to do this - of smothering a TV station's signal - would cost thousands of dollars at the very least. I said, 'You have the video — go to the place where you think it was filmed!'". Eric Fournier seemed to have a sense of humor that was one-of-a-kind, and many think that this sense of humor fit with the overall weird qualities of the Max Headroom incident. Unable to determine any features from the man in the Max Headroom mask, analysts began focusing in on his female accomplice, who had been wearing a French maid's costume. Anders Yocom, a spokesman for WTTW, stated that the station considered the incident: "... an illegal override of the station's video and audio signals.". She spanks him with the flyswatter a handful of times, while he screams "Don't do it, no!"
"But whoever 'Max' was, he sure didn't act like he had any form of Asperger's syndrome—even if under the influence of drugs or not.". For thousands of Chicago residents, it was already too late. For 15 seconds, the screen went black, then displayed a person wearing a Max Headroom mask and sunglasses, accompanied by a buzzing sound and swaying in front of a rotating corrugated metal panel that mimicked Max Headroom's geometric background effect. In the middle of the sports report, viewers were treated to approximately 15 seconds of dead air, before being greeted again. On the Tolmes News Service BBS, dial-up "modemers" reacted to the signal intrusion with curiosity and awe and hacker pride. Unfortunately, because the method of this hijacking had been so simple - with the hijackers simply smothering the stations' outgoing signal and replacing it with their own - there was no real way for investigators to track them. "While there, I asked a few of them what they meant by 'Big.' Right up until 9:14 PM on November 22nd, 1987, what appeared on Chicago's television sets was somewhat normal: entertainment, news, game shows. What you are hearing is the opening theme to the Max Headroom show - a creative, obscure television program that ran for a little over a year in the late 1980's. Inside job, you think?
According to the legend, Max began as Edison Carter, an intrepid, muckraking TV reporter for Network 23, investigating the dealings of corporations in a dystopian near-future, when he discovers that his own network is airing a new kind of advertisement that can literally kill viewers. According to this character's backstory, she was a former-model that had been in a horrific car accident, having since lost her arms, legs, and face. In the US, a TV hacker today could be charged under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that has been used to prosecute, with what critics have called "draconian" penalties, a variety of relatively benign hackers in recent years, including Aaron Swartz and Andrew Auernheimer. It appears that they also attempted to enhance the "UPPER RIGHT HAND QUADRANT" of the video to get a better visual of Max's kinky accomplice. ", Momentum slowed: the case lacked evidence, and the threat felt ambiguous. And the more I thought about it, the more everything clicked.". "For a few precious seconds, life imitated art for a change," Poag wrote to me in a final email.
He was introduced in early 1985. 3. We weren't friends with anyone getting degrees in mass communications and had no access to broadcast equipment. Poag could offer no physical evidence, though he pointed to comments made by another redditor who claimed to remember the brothers. I don't think it needed a few briefcases," he said.
Just a hunch. And when you look back at the history, none have come close to the Headroom hack for sheer notoriety or strangeness.
In March 1989, not long after a 25-year-old named Kevin Mitnick was arrested for tapping into NSA computers, the Tribune meditated on this relatively new type of person. After all, even in the second incident, the individual posing as Max Headroom had singled out a WGN sportscaster - Chuck Swinsky - and even mocked the title of "world's greatest newspaper.". A squat, suited figure sputtered into being, and bounced around maniacally. But then, just like that - the episode of Doctor Who continued playing, as if nothing had happened. In the age of digital transmissions and encryption, signal intrusions have become harder to perpetrate, but they still happen.
J and K, he added, are not their real names. "I would like to inform anybody involved in this kinda thing, that there's a maximum penalty of $100,000, one-year in jail, or both," Phil Bradford, an FCC spokesman, told a reporter the following day. That night HBO aired The Falcon and the Snowman, the 1985 John Schlesinger movie based on the true story of an American intelligence contractor who sells secrets to the Soviets. And then the signal flickered into darkness. In addition, his voice was overdubbed with some electric samples, which gave the character of Max Headroom a distinct, distorted-sounding voice. Agents from the FBI's Chicago field office would soon join the investigation. It lasted for one minute and twenty-two seconds. If you recall, she had only shown up for the last few seconds, and had been spanking the man with a fly-swatter. Bowie was happy to oblige. These videos began appearing online in the early 2000's, which were paired with a Livejournal blog - which was apparently kept up by the fictional Shaye St. John.
Staff at WGN were eager to cooperate, as they had been the first affected, and seemed to be the target of the bizarre scheme. America's first-known broadcast signal intrusion, a 2008 video, during its campaign against Scientology, to Comcast's 2009 broadcast of the Super Bowl. Her face is shielded from the camera, but she is holding a fly swatter. This is the story of the Max Headroom Incident.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- 87Nov29 9:05 pm from The Slipped Disk So wait… How did these dudes in Chi town do it? The speculation that would eventually reach places like reddit began on Chicago's bulletin board systems, places with names like Ripco, Overdrive, and God's Country.
The first incident took place for 25 seconds during the sports segment of WGN-TV's 9:00 p.m. news broadcast; the second occurred around two hours later, for about 90 seconds during PBS affiliate WTTW's broadcast of Doctor Who. They were smiling about something that J was referring to, and I heard that word, 'Big.' The brothers were close.
(The dateline on every episode was "twenty minutes into the future.")
These ads were made in Max Headroom's trademark style, which featured an odd sense-of-humor and frenetic editing. "Not even an acknowledgement. Figuring it out would require going to the place to determine if anyone had seen anything unusual, and maybe in the process, to stumble upon their culprit or culprits. It was possible that the responsible party was a former-employee, which would explain not only a motive but potential broadcast expertise. (The Tribune's headline: "Powerful Video Prankster c-c-c-could become Max Jailroom.") After singing the phrase "Your love is fading", humming the theme song to the 1959 TV series Clutch Cargo, and saying "I still see the X" (a reference to the last episode of that show), he said he had "made a giant masterpiece for all the Greatest World Newspaper nerds" (WGN's call letters stand for "World's Greatest Newspaper"). Broadcast intrusion is a central part of2005's V for Vendetta too, and the opening of The Outer Limits warned, "Do not attempt to adjust your television set…We are controlling the transmission." But Max wasn't there. And he wasn't finished. And this time, staff at the station would struggle to overcome the issue, allowing this bizarre hijacker free rein of the network's reach for more than a minute. "He was a broadcast hacker.". WGN made it their top story, and titled it "TV VIDEO PIRATE.".
Max Headroom was the cyberpunk on mainstream TV, imagining a digital world that turned out to be not very far from 1987.
But even with a likely geographical location, Marcus said, finding the resources and manpower needed to continue the investigation was a struggle.  WTTW, which maintained its transmitter atop the Sears Tower, found that its engineers were unable to stop the hijacker due to the fact that there were no engineers on duty at the Sears Tower at the time of the hijacking. Even if the hacker may have exhibited a trace of Eric's kooky showmanship, other friends of Eric's I spoke to also dismissed the theory. , The unidentified hijacker dressed to resemble, Southern Television broadcast interruption, Captain Midnight broadcast signal intrusion, "Techno-Ethics and Tele-Ethics: Three Lives in the Day of Max Headroom", "The Mystery of the Creepiest Television Hack", "30 Years Later, Notorious 'Max Headroom Incident' Remains a Mystery", "30 years later, Max Headroom hijack mystery remains unsolved", "Thirty years later, "Max Headroom" TV pirate remains at large", "Television's Most Infamous Hack Is Still a Mystery 30 Years Later", "Remember, Remember the 22nd of November", "A powerful video prankster could become Max Jailroom", "WTTW Channel 11 – Doctor Who – 'The Max Headroom Pirating Incident' (1987)", "Casting final look at '87 // Local sportscasters recall year's memorable events", "The Freakiest TV Hack of the 1980s: Max Headroom", "Bogus 'Max Headroom' Interrupts Broadcasts On 2 Chicago Stations", Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, List of culture jamming organizations and people, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Max_Headroom_signal_hijacking&oldid=983106712, November 1987 events in the United States, Television controversies in the United States, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2019, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 12 October 2020, at 08:17.