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Joe Engressia, Expert 'Phone Phreak,' Dies

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Joe Engressia, Expert 'Phone Phreak,' Dies

Remembrances

Joe Engressia, Expert 'Phone Phreak,' Dies

Joe Engressia, Expert 'Phone Phreak,' Dies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/13764518/13764495" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

An article in Esquire in 1971 revealed a world of "phone phreaking." At the center of that world was a young man named Joe Engressia, who later changed his name to Joybubbles. Engressia died in Minneapolis earlier this month.

Engressia had an unusual relationship with the telephone: He was born blind and used his unusual auditory gifts to pioneer the practice of "phone phreaking," which involved manipulating public telephone networks.

Ron Rosenbaum, who wrote the Esquire article and is now an author and a columnist for the online magazine Slate, talks with Robert Siegel.

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