25 years back a 9th grade student would not have thought that he might be changing the future of computing forever. This year marks the 25th anniversary of computer viruses. The same guy, who still hasn’t grown old, shares his experiences on his blog. The author of the first virus, Elk Cloner, has this in store for you.
First thought: “25 years? Aaaah I’m old!”
Fortunately I still regularly get the feeling I had back when I wrote cloner.
“Why did I do it”, a reporter asked. “Was it malicious?”
No, not malicious. It was a practical joke combined with a hack. A wonderful hack.
Back then nothing was networked. We had these computers in a lab, and there was software for them on floppy disks. You stick in the disk and run the software. Simple.
The aha moment was when I realized I could essentially get my program to move around by itself. I could give it its own motive force, by having it hide in the resident RAM of the machine between floppy changes, and hitching a ride onto the next floppy that would be inserted. Whoa. That would be cool.
Insight without implementation is worthless, so to work I went.
Like many of the early viruses, Elk Cloner did not cause any deliberate harm, although it could harm disks not containing the standard DOS image – it overwrote its reserved tracks regardless of the contents. Like many of the early viruses, however, it did cause annoyance: on every 50th booting the virus would display a short “poem,” as follows:
Elk Cloner: The program with a personality It will get on all your disksIt will infiltrate your chips Yes it's Cloner! It will stick to you like glueIt will modify RAM tooSend in the Cloner!
Unfortunately the poor guy gave a kick start to a severe headache to the computing world.