Captain Midnight

Captain Midnight

April 27, 1986 - It was only 32 minutes into this day when a mysterious satellite hacker known only as "Captain Midnight" interrupted HBO's showing of The Falcon and the Snowman with this onscreen protest:

GOODEVENING HBO - FROM CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT - $12.95/MONTH ? - NO WAY ! - SHOWTIME/MOVIE CHANNEL BEWARE!

Many night owls who happened to be watching were freaked out by this space age hack attack. It ignited a debate over the higher prices that premium channels like HBO were asking satellite dish owners to pay in order to access their programming. Others were worried about the broader implications of someone being able to jam their way into a satellite signal.

Eventually the FCC tracked down a satellite dish dealer in Florida named John R. MacDougall. Turns out he had come up with the idea of jamming the signal on a whim. He had just finished working on a satellite uplink of Pee Wee's Big Adventure and he moved the 30-foot dish into its storage spot. It just happened that the tilt of the dish pointed it directly at satellite Galaxy 1, which carried HBO's programming for the eastern US. Just for for the hell of it, MacDougall quickly typed out a message and started transmitting. The rest is history.

MacDougal paid a $5,000 fine and he was placed on probation for a year.

Kon Tiki

Kon Tiki

The L'Aigle Meteorites

The L'Aigle Meteorites