The Birth of the Computer Virus
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Now when we say Windows Vista blocks computer viruses, we are describing a problem that most people did not imagine until 1982.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And that's when a ninth grader named Rich Skrenta created what may have been the first computer virus. He wrote a program that would jump off a floppy disk onto the computer. The next time somebody else slid a disk into the computer, the program jumped right onboard.
INSKEEP: Mr. Skrenta did not intend to crash computer systems. He did want his friends to get copies of his pirated computer games. So 25 years ago now, he distributed the virus he called Elk Cloner.
MONTAGNE: Every so often the program would cause a poem to pop up on the computer screen. It described the first virus as, quote, "the program with the personality. And went to include this off rhyme."
INSKEEP: It will get on all your disks, it will infiltrate your chips. Words for countless later viruses to live by.
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INSKEEP: And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.
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