<< 1989 1990 1991 >>
January 1, 1990
Steve Bonine, Chair of the IFNA (International Fidonet Association) Elections and Nominations Committee announces that the referendum to give contorl of FidoNet to the IFNA has failed, 480 (Yes) to 1417 (No). The IFNA begins proceedings to dissolve.

     Steve Bonine  1:115/777
     Chair of IFNA Elections and Nominations Committee

     At this Summer's FidoCon, the IFNA Board of Directors passed a
     resolution affectionately known as YPOP (Yellow Piece of Paper)
     which decreed that a vote would be taken to determine the future of
     IFNA.  The rules for this vote were published in FidoNews 644.  The
     polls were open during the month of November, and the vote totals
     were tabulated and reported up the FidoNet coordinator structure
     during the month of December.  This article reports those results.

     The resolution passed by the Board stated that the outcome of the
     vote was to be based upon the total of ELIGIBLE voters, not on the
     number of actual votes received.  It thus was as important to
     develop a count of eligible voters as to record the votes received.
     Network Coordinators who conducted the vote were requested to
     forward three numbers:  YES votes, NO votes, and number of eligible

     A mechanism was developed to adjust the total of eligible voters to
     compensate for nets which did not report any results or for which
     no number-eligible was reported.  This mechanism, described in the
     published rules, involves calculating a ratio of the number of
     eligible voters to the number of nodelist entries and then applying
     that ratio to nets which did not report.

     In summary, the numeric results are as follows:

     YES votes received:                                  1417
     NO  votes received:                                   480
     Eligible voters reported:                            3741
     Nodelist entries represented by these 3741 voters:   4373
     Nodelist entries represented by nets not reporting:  1484
     Calculated  eligible  voters in nets not reporting:  1269
     Total eligible voters:                               5010

     Percentage of eligible voters voting YES:  28%

     As Chair of the IFNA Nominations and Elections Committee, the Board
     of Directors should consider this my formal report that the
     required majority of eligible voters was NOT received in this

     Now that I have presented the numbers, I want to editorialize just
     a bit.

     I want to thank everyone who helped conduct this election.  The
     cooperation from the entire FidoNet coordinator structure was
     excellent and quite gratifying.  After all, it wasn't the coordina-
     tors who asked for this, and it is no small amount of work to hold
     this type of election, especially in a large net.  Considering the
     number of people involved and our experience level at doing this,
     the number of problems encountered was vanishingly small.

     Which brings me to a related topic.  There are almost 2,000 votes
     tallied in this election.  I am certain that, somewhere, there must
     be a typo or a net's vote which somehow was mis-recorded.  Let's
     not nitpick on this.  A few votes one way or the other really isn't
     going to change anything.  A few HUNDRED votes wouldn't change the
     outcome.  In fact, it would take more than 1,000 additional YES
     votes to change the outcome.  Everyone involved has done their best
     to insure accuracy, and flames about misrecorded votes just aren't
     called for.

Source http://www.textfiles.com/bbs/FIDONET/FIDONEWS/fido0701.nws

January 8, 1990
Thom Henderson announces a special meeting of the IFNA (International FidoNet Association) to wind the organization down, having lost the FidoNet referendum of December 1, 1989.

     Thom Henderson, c/o 1:107/528
     Chairman, International FidoNet Association

                     Special Meeting of the IFNA Board

     By  my  authority  as  Chairman  of the Board of the International
     FidoNet Association, Inc.  under Bylaw 19 of the Association,  and
     in  accordance  with  the  wishes  of  the  Board  of Directors as
     established by the Board Meeting concluded on 27 August  1989  and
     the  wishes  of  the  membership  as established by the referendum
     concluded on 1 December 1989,  I hereby call for a SPECIAL MEETING
     of  the Board of Directors to be held in Lyndhurst,  New Jersey on
     the 26th through the 28th of  January  1990  for  the  purpose  of
     winding down the affairs of the International FidoNet Association,

     I  hereby  require that all chairmen of all IFNA committees submit
     to the Secretary prior to that date their  Final  Reports  on  the
     affairs  of  their  committees.  Each  Final  Report shall include
     recommendations from the committee on how to conclude any  ongoing
     business  of that committee and reccommendations on how to dispose
     of  any  assets  of  the  IFNA  that  are  within  the  realm   of
     responsibility of that committee.

     Motions to be made at this SPECIAL  MEETING,  in  accordance  with
     Bylaw 20 of the Association, may ONLY deal with matters related to
     the  purpose  of  this  meeting  as  stated  herein.  Further,  in
     accordance  with  Bylaw  22 of the Association all motions must be
     received by me no later than  19  January  1990  in  order  to  be
     included  on  the  agenda  so  that they may be distributed to the
     Board members in advance.


January 18, 1990
Craig Neidorf, who publishes PHRACK under the name of "Knight Lightning", is visited by the US Secret Service and Bellsouth regarding an article published in PHRACK Issue #24, "Control Office Administration Of Enhanced 911 Service by The Eavesdropper". The agents return the next day with a search warrant.

January 24, 1990
Andrew Milner and Phil MacKay release version 0.01 (First Public Release) of RemoteAccess BBS Software.

                    RemoteAccess v0.01 release notes

     Welcome to the first, long awaited public release of RemoteAccess!

It's been a heck of a long time in development, and we sincerely hope you'll
like it. RemoteAccess is not crippled in any way, it won't stop working on a
certain date, and doesn't require a "key" to run. All we ask is that you
register with us if you like it.

As this is our first release, we expect a few bugs to appear. That doesn't
mean it hasn't been thoroughly tested, but with a piece of software this
complex there are some bugs that are bound to have slipped through. If you
do encounter any problems, please report them in RA_SUPPORT or via netmail
promptly, so we can make the necessary fixes ASAP.

Unfortunately, RAMSG, the message database maintenance utility didn't make it
in time for this release. As a workaround, you can use either the generic
QuickBBS packer MSGPACK, or Joaquim Homrighausen's fine TosScan utility.

PLEASE read the documentation! This applies especially to QuickBBS sysops.
During beta testing, we found a tendency for sysops converting from QuickBBS
to "jump right in". We cannot stress this enough - read the docs first, THEN
ask us for help. This will give us more development time, and will allow you
to realise the full potential of the product.

Andrew Milner & Phil Mackay.

ra_001.zip (300K) RemoteAccess BBS v0.01 Release Distribution (First Public Release)

February 1, 1990
Craig Neidorf is indicted by a grand jury with six counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud, and transportation of stolen property over $5,000.

February 11, 1990
RemoteAccess BBS Version 0.02 is Released.

March 1, 1990
The Secret Service raids Steve Jackson Games, a maker of Role Playing games, and seizes their BBS and office equipment. Steve Jackson games mounts a campaign to retrieve the seized equipment and BBS and is ultimately victorious.

On March 1, 1990, the Secret
Service, in an early-morning raid, searched the offices of Steve
Jackson Games.  The agents kept the employees out of the offices
until the afternoon, and took the company's BBS -- called
"Illuminati" -- along with an employee's work computer, other
computer equipment, and hundreds and hundreds of floppy disks. 
They took all the recent versions of a soon-to-be-published game
book, "GURPS Cyberpunk," including big parts of the draft which
were publicly available on Illuminati.

	On March 2, Steve Jackson tried to get copies of the seized
files back from the Secret Service.  He was treated badly, and
given only a handful of files from one office computer.  He was not
allowed to touch the Illuminati computer, or copy any of its files.

	Steve Jackson Games took a nosedive, and barely avoided going
out of business.  According to Jackson, eight employees lost their
jobs on account of the Secret Service raid, and the company lost
many thousands of dollars in sales.  It is again a busy enterprise,
no thanks to the Secret Service (although they tried to take
credit, pointing to the supposedly wonderful publicity their raid

	After months of pestering, including pressure by lawyers and
Senator Lloyd Bentsen (now, as Treasury Secretary, the Secret
Service's boss) the Secret Service returned most of the equipment
taken, some of it much the worse for wear.

By then, Steve Jackson had restarted Illuminati on a different
computer.  When the old Illuminati computer was finally given back,
Jackson turned it on -- and saw that all the electronic mail which
had been on the board on March 1 was gone!  Wayne Bell, WWIV
developer and guru, was called in.  He gave us invaluable (and
free) help evaluating the condition of the files.  He concluded,
and testified firmly at trial, that during the week of March 20,
1990, when the Secret Service still had Illuminati, the BBS was
run, and every piece of e-mail was individually accessed and
deleted.  The Illuminati files the Secret Service had returned to
Steve Jackson left irrefutable electronic traces of what had been
done -- even I could understand how the condition and dates of the
e-mail files showed what had happened, and when.

April 30, 1990
RemoteAccess BBS Version 0.03 is Released.

May 8, 1990
The RIPCO BBS, one of the older BBSes still in existence, is closed and seized by the FBI.

On May 8th I was awakened at my
home at 6:30a m by several Secret Service agents with a warrant for
computers and telecommunications equipment. They also had a second warrant
issued to the address where Ripco operated out of. Although there are
better ways to start the day, this did not come as a real surprise to me.
Since 1987 when Shadow Hawk made the papers with his $2.3 million software
theft charges it occured to me that as more and more people are caught, if
they even were remotly connected to Ripco, eventually something would turn
up on my end. This could be considered the reasoning of a mad man but I
have always felt that there was no illegal activity going on within the
system and could defend it no matter how petty it was taken apart. To put
it another way, Ripco's bark had a hell of a reputation but no bite.

This was probably and still is true depending how you look at it. The
warrants issued were only (!?!) seizure warrants issued to the addresses.
There were no names on them and I was not arrested or charged by the Secret
Service. This provided me some relief but since I didn't get to sleep till
4am that morning it was probably a lack of reasoning on my part.

There were at least 5 agents that came to the house, but I think they had a
few more around back in case of an escape attempt. Three of them stayed
while two others drove me to the other location. The only question they
asked before I left was it would be easier if I gave the location of any
computers I had there to which the reply was 'none.' This later proved true
since no items were taken, but they did spend about an hour looking through

I wish to point out that this was not a scene that would make good
television. They didn't break down any doors, no one I observed had a gun
drawn and overall they were pleasant in their mannerisms. This is not being
said in defense of them but I always have been curious about the stories
passed around where swat teams come down on a 16 year old for running a few
MCI numbers. One interesting side note to you electronic phreaks out there
is their radios, which probably use Motorolas digital voice protection
circuitry trip every car alarm in the neighborhood when keyed. Several of
the agents said this was normal and wished they didn't have this side

As I traveled with the agents to the other location I started to think what
they were about to see and if anything was there that needed a fast
explanation. The only thing that occured to me was three handguns I kept
for personal protection. I informed the driver of this fact and he radioed
ahead to let them know. He said matters like that isn't their concern but
added they have to check with local law enforcement to see if I was in
violation of city or state laws.

When we arrived there was a sizable crowd waiting.  Besides 5 or 6 more SS
agents, there were a few others in suit and tie (the SS dresses casual) and
at least one Chicago police car with a couple officers. The agents that
escorted me there led me to a woman probably in her mid or late 20's.  She
apparently was the one in charge and gave me instructions on how we were
going to enter the building. Before unlocking the front door she asked
several times if any boobytraps were set either for them or the computers.
I found this questioning amusing but was the only one smiling of the group.
Unlocking the front door led to questions about where the guns were located
and instructions on how to find them. I brought up the fact the alarm
system had to be turned off and after a few attempts she managed to
deactivate it. A different agent was sent in and recovered the weapons.

As we entered the main room I was told not to touch anything but to point
out the computer the board was run off of, which I did. The woman then
introduced herself as Barbara and informed me of what I already knew, they
were there to carry out a warrant and that it would probably take a while.
She handed me a piece of paper which was the actual warrant and as I looked
it over, a paragraph stated it was issued based on an attached affidavit,
specifically pages 26-39 by a special agent Lawson. Asking where the
attached affidavit was brought the reply "it was a closed document, I
didn't have any rights to see it" and added 'its an on-going
investigation'. I was then informed by her that I was not under arrest nor
charged but they had to read the Miranda rights to me since any questions I
answered could be used against me. Another agent said they did have
questions but I did not have to answer them, could answer them with a
lawyer present or even have a lawyer present and not answer them. He also
pointed out that I could stop answering the questions at any time so I
figured I'd agree to answer them since there wasn't all that much to hide

Although an attempt was made to get comfortable within the building, the
main area is full of junk collected over the years and the limited seating
made things a bit crowded.  We eventually ended up out back outside where
the questioning took place. From this point on Barbara made few other
comments and the bulk of the questions were handled by another young agent
named Tim.

The questions started with an apology by Tim saying there was someone who
requested specific questions to be asked for a case study or something
along those lines. He said they were fairly simple but was required to ask
them.  These questions were general in nature and read off a xerox sheet,
mostly a list of phrases that were looking for definitions.  What is a
phreaker, hacker, know what a virus is, have you ever written or
distributed one, etc.

After this opening round of Q & A, he announced we were going on to more
specific questions involving myself and the bulletin board. I don't really
remember most of the questions but the subject dealt with my awareness that
both credit card and long distance access codes were being passed through
the system and what was on the hidden boards that normally wasn't part of
standard access, and who had access to them. My answer to these led into
the system maintenance and how I handled it.

As far as the question about the codes went, I replied no I was not aware
of that and he point out they had printouts proving they were. Of course it
crossed my mind that if they already had soild proof, why bother to ask the
questions. I wish to publicly state that this type of information was
posted from time to time but I did not lie to the question. Regular users
of the board were aware that long ago I made clear the system policy on
this matter. Long distance codes along with credit card information was not
allowed to exist on the system. I felt that any specific information left
that could lead to direct fraud was not welcome and would be removed and
persons who repeated violating this themselves would be removed from the
system also.

To clarify the phrase 'specific information' to the readers of this file I
wish to explain my position on how I considered board policy on messages.
It is no secret that many of the posts of board 5 (fone phun) either
solicited for the need of or said they had and would share such
information. I never considered this wrongful for a number of reasons. The
primary one would be most people on there were blowing smoke as far as
really knowing anything either fraudulent or important. Few people outside
the bbs community realize that in many areas both status and ego are
wrongfully important factors to others within the modem society. Many
people who wish to raise their status will often come up with outlandish
claims in an attempt to convince others he or she is an expert on one
matter or another.

Any attempt to suppress this act I felt would of damaged Ripco's open door
policy since people do have to start somewhere and eventually learn their
peers will catch on fast if someone is pulling a bluff. Thus this type of
activity was tolerated but the line was crossed if anyone attempted to
really do it. For example if a message contained something like 'just dial
1-800-555-1212 and punch in 123456 at the tone', the entire message was
removed or in more cases re-edited especially if other parts were about
non-related matters.

Returning to the questioning, the above was explained as such but not as a
whole. If in fact they did have printouts of such activity, I suggested an
explanation which covered the maintenance aspect of the board. Basically
Ripco operated itself with my chores limited to validating new users and
updating the general files. Once every morning the messages left since my
last check-in were read. The removal/re-edit if needed was applied at this
time.  Considering this occured daily around noon, a message posted let's
say at 3:00pm the preceding day was in existence for nearly 21 hours
before it got my approval or disapproval. Thus I pointed out that in theory
they could have a printout of something but if checked the following day,
it should have been removed.

This was not second questioned by them and they seemed content with it. As
far as the hidden boards went, there were two as most of the system users
knew but were not really active. Board 9 to the best memory serves me was
completely non-existant. Although it was used in the past for various
things, after one of many hard drives crashes it bit the big one and was
not in service. The message file required to use it was not there and I
believe there was even a line in the program that reset the security bit of
people that did have access in the past so they couldn't accidently enter
causing a 'file not found' error. Board 10 was active but fewer than 6
people could claim to access it. Originally it was set up when an attempt
was made on my part to collect a few bucks to keep the system running back
in 1985. It contained few messages and would only gain 5 or 6 more a year.

Questioning from this point on was more broad in nature, jumping from
subject to subject. Items like the anarchy files which were made up in part
of bomb construction articles were deemed 'wrong' by them and I defended by
saying such information could be gathered from numerous public sources.
They still insisted it was 'wrong' and shouldn't have been made available.

One fact that arose well into our chat is that it became obvious that
besides Tim who seemed to know little besides a few buzzwords, none of
those here really had an understanding of computers or much else as far as
a technical background went.  Another agent even admitted later that they
were only here to serve the warrant, as far as what was really going on
with the investigation and who or what was involved, they didn't know. Any
questions I attempted to ask them were generally not answered and the
ultimate question of 'why me?' was given the reply 'catch the evening news,
this is happening right now all over the country, should make some good

Even the simple question of what's next, where does the stuff end up needed
a short conference among them and they decided on the following: after its
boxed up downtown, it's shipped to Washington to a department called
'diagnostics'.  Tim appeared to be the only one with knowledge of this
because one of the other agents asked him 'who runs that?'.  Tim explained
to him that it was part of the SS and was started a couple years ago. The
other agent just shrugged his shoulders.

To put some people fears to rest, there wasn't much else going on. I
expected they were going to ask me about certain individuals or if I knew
anything else going on, but they didn't. Even subjects like PHRACK and the
LOD were only touched upon, no specific questions were asked or answered.
They seemed pleased to find a catalog printout of the general file section
with the PHRACK issues but considering anyone with a valid account had
access to the actual files, this didn't seem to make sense to me.

After a couple hours of this with many lulls in the questioning they asked
if I would sign a statement saying basically everything I said was true and
I did because it was. The only other thing they wanted in the statement was
that I was in fact the operator and did make an attempt to keep the board
clean on a daily basis. Makes me wonder now what that could be twisted into
later down the line.

In all they were here for about 6 hours. In that time I learned little on
what was going on. One of the agents said there were 2 representatives from
AT&T present but didn't know why, saying they just had instructions to pick
them up this morning before they came and got me. My gut feeling was the
code/credit card numbers that much of the conversation was based on.

Drawing to the end they informed me the warrant was completed, led me back
inside after taking a few snapshots of your truly and handed me a receipt
of what they took.  Annoying in the first place them being there, the first
thing that caught my eye was both my personal Macintoshes were on the list
along with the related hardware including a 940 meg worm drive and laser
printer. Laser printer? Maybe if you could pick it up and throw it at
someone it could be considered a lethal weapon but what else? Ripco
operated on an Apple //e and had no connections to the macs besides being
near them which apparently is the way they determined what stayed and what

My guess is that after examining the rats nest of wiring that existed around
the 3 computers, they figured anything plugged into the power strip must have
been tied in with each other somehow. An IBM 386 clone and an Apple //gs
sat on the floor only a couple feet away but were untouched. Other
items taken included a 1955 Western Electric model D500 phone, any personal
phone books including a copy of the Chicago White Pages and several
pictures and cartoons I had hanging on the wall. This also included a
picture of a hooker spread eagle from a bachelor party and a picture of
Charles Manson clipped from some tabloid because it bore a resemblance to
me. All disks if not in a sealed box (probably around 3000) were also
taken along with paperwork found in various areas.  These items were only
listed as 'misc.' and not broken down on the receipt.

I was cut loose only momentarily since an officer from the Chicago Police
Department replaced the many people running in and out during the morning
hours. He asked if the guns turned over to him were registered with the
city, which they weren't because you can't, so I was charged with a
misdemeanor, failure to register a firearm. A slight explanation about
this: back when Jane Byrne was mayor, she wanted to outlaw handguns
altogether. Some suburbs of Chicago tried this and met with resistance from
the NRA and feared long court battles. So they offered an a grace period
to get people who already had them to register them, but at a cut off date,
handguns could no longer be registered.  Thus anyone getting caught with a
handgun after this did not face an illegal weapons charge, only the failure
to register even though someone who registered prior is safe. It ends up
going to court, having the weapons destroyed and getting 6 months
supervision with no conviction on the books.  This was the outcome of that

- Bruce Esquibel (Dr. Ripco) in Computer Underground Digest #1.27 (8/9/1990)

July, 1990
The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) is founded to provide legal assistance in technology-based cases of civil liberties.

July 23, 1990
The "E911 Document" trial of Craig Neidorf begins in Chicago's District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The trial quickly falls apart for the prosecution as it is proven the documents are not worth the amount of money quoted, that Neidorf's actions do not fall under many of charges against him, and other major holes appear in the legal case against him. He is vindicated, but Neidorf is left with $100,000 in legal bills.

July 27, 1990
The FidoNet Region 17 Convention is held in Corbett, Orgeon at the Menucha Camp and Conference Grounds.

     Janet Murray
     Fido 1:105/23


     Because . . .

     * the traditional "Curmudgeon tossing" event has been replaced this
     year with "Curmudgeon bungee diving" - an event more suited to the
     unique natural setting of the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center,
     high on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.  Your early
     registration (before May 15th) entitles you to vote on which brand of
     shoes he will wear.  (The folks in Region 17 are already debating
     the length of the rope.)

     * it will be the only FidoNet convention on the West Coast this
     summer.  Although it's officially a "Region 17" convention, sysops
     and their guests from other regions are welcome to join in the
     usual exchange of banter, tall tales, and technical support typical
     of any FidoNet gathering.

Source http://groups.google.com/groups?q=fidocon+1990&selm=11366%40hoptoad.uucp&rnum=2

July 31, 1990
RemoteAccess BBS v0.04a is Released.

August 1, 1990
Fidocon 1990 (Also called Conclave '90) is held in Lyndhurst, NJ from August 1 through 5.

August 6, 1990
Fidonet news editor Vince Perriello announces in FidoNews that the IFNA (International Fidonet Association) has been officially dissolved, having failed to pass a referendum on its control of Fidonet.

     I guess  I  could  ask  you  if anything important occurred in my
     absence, but too many people might take it the wrong way.

     Actually, two things  happened  in  my  absence.  One of them was
     entirely trivial but has  gotten  everybody's attention;  and the
     other was entirely important and has been generally ignored.

     What I want to talk about is what occurred yesterday in Lyndhurst
     New Jersey.

     We put IFNA to rest yesterday.  It went,  not  with  a  bang, but
     with a whimper.  I'm certain that everyone who had anything to do
     with  IFNA  at  any  point  has  his  or her own memory  of  what
     happened,  so  I  won't  get  into it much.  Suffice to say  that
     FidoNet has finally  arrived  at  the  conclusion that anarchy is
     what it does best -- so it's damned well going to do it.

     That's OK with me.  Though I thought IFNA was going to help us do
     it by taking some of the other monkeys off our backs.  I think it
     was when somebody decided that IFNA  was a bigger monkey than the
     rest, that it all started to get ugly.


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