Was Dial-A-Joke You?

January 3, 2018

Question from E-mail

I just had to laugh at the part in the movie where someone called Dial-A-Joke. I remember calling that number to hear the joke of the day. Was it really you who did this?


Experimenting with blue boxes to make calls anywhere in the world while at Berkely in 1971-1972, I encountered a few Dial-a-Jokes in the world. I never used the blue box to save money on phone calls, I was an ethical hacker.

So while working as an engineer at Hewlett Packard, designing scientific calculators, I started the first Dial-a-Joke in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was before you could buy answering machines or even telephones. I had to rent a very expensive machine made for theaters, and eventually had to quit because I couldn’t afford it. I got so many calls that I had to keep changing the number. Anyone with a similar number would get 100 calls a day. The best known numbers that I had were (408) 255-6666 and (408) 575-1625. I operated Dial-a-Joke out of my Cupertino apartment, where I did a lot of the Apple designing (I designed every bit and wrote all the code including BASIC myself). I used a thick Eastern accent, like Russian, and used the name Stanley Zebrezuskinitsky when I took live calls.