Cybertech: The Cyberpunk Technical Journal

"Another cyberpunk/hacker's zine covering all facets of computer technology, culture and security. Subtitled "The Cyberpunk Technical Journal," this zine is more concerned with hard technical information than with slickness or style. But, don't let the scuzzy design fool you. There's a lot of neat stuff to be had here. Articles cover a lot more than computer hacking. too. Phones, fax machines, lasers, ham radios, garage door openers and other gadgets are all dissected in search of "vulnerabilities". There's also information on survival techniques, weapons, and how to change your identity. A pleasingly dense packet of radical tech."
- G. Branwyn

The publishing thing started in 1987 after 2600 published a book review I wrote on CRB Research's Top Secret Registry of US Government Radio Frequencies. After that, I had put together this small text on radio communications techniques and started corresponding with John Williams of Consumertronics, who was one of the more cutting edge underground publishers at the time. They thought it was a good piece and Secret and Survival Radio Communications was born. Then things started to get interesting. I had an English teacher who had what could be best described as a fetish for the Holocaust. We were given The Diary of Ann Frank to read, and afterwards had to write an essay that I simply couldn't write. The premise was that one's particular race/religion/ethnic group/whatever was being singled out for persecution by the powers that be, and that one would have to go into hiding as a result. The essay was to a diary of one's experiences while "in hiding". For those of you unfamiliar with the content of H/P BBSes during the 1980s, need only to check out some of the more interesting sections of to get an idea of the material I had access to. I had additionally tracked down the original sources of some of the material that was transcribed into electronic format. I found things like The Poor Man's James Bond, TM 31-210 Improvised Munitions Handbook (Black Book), some of Uncle Fester's more interesting titles, and the "31 Series" U.S. Army Special Forces Manuals. Armed with this knowledge, I proceeded to write not one, but two essays. The first one was for the actual writing assignment. The second one was a more technically detailed paper for when I got the response I expected from this teacher.

The first paper was simply an essay that stated how I would not go into hiding because I'd probably be discovered eventually and wind up like all the other detainees stuck in some concentration camp and eventually being executed. I pointed out that the book showed how flawed a strategy going into hiding was. With that being the case, it was probably better to take the "nazis" on as a guerrilla fighter and at least take a few with you. (If only the JPFO were around when I was in High School.) This paper was returned to me with a notation stating that "the assignment was how you were going into hiding, and how could you possibly expect to fight back?" That's when paper number two was deployed. I got a "D" on that assignment, but it was worth it. I later found out that paper number two scared the living shit out of the teacher, but there was nothing that she (or the school administration) could do about it. Actually, they decided to bury the entire matter and it would have ended there if it weren't for another English teacher who looked at paper number two. This Gentleman grew up in Germany during the Second World War, and later immigrated to the United States after the war when his part of the country became East Germany. I had already become acquainted with him as he owned a shortwave receiver and listened to Radio Deutsche Welle in his classroom. He came up to me looking all serious and Teutonic, and said in his accented (but perfect) English, "I read your second paper, Thomas." He then smiled and said, "You will make a book out of it."

It took three years to fully research and write By an Order of The Magnitude after I decided to go ahead with the project. At the time (1990) I thought it was a pretty good technical manual, but that was sixteen years ago. John Williams actually came up with the title. The book was going to be "by an order of magnitude" better than other survival books on the market, and we came up with the concept of this shadowy group of hacker survivalists disseminating information to help people survive the impending collapse of society. This "group" became known as "The Magnitude", and that's how the name came to be. Now as I was finishing the manuscript for BAOOTM, I came to realize that I'd still be acquiring technological survival information, and that there should be a means for people who've read BAOOTM to get updates. The whole Cyberpunk thing was in full swing, and fit right in with the technological survival philosophy. Using the old-school TAP Magazine (I had acquired a set of back issues from a fellow phone phreak by then) and The Poor Man's James Bond as an inspiration, I went about creating a magazine that Jerod Pore called "2600 recombined with The Poor Man's James Bond". That magazine was called "Cybertek: The Cyberpunk Technical Journal". I much later learned that the spelling "Cybertek" was trademarked since 1974 by a corporation down in Texas that does computer software for the insurance industry so I changed it to "Cybertech".

Cybertech was released in March, 1990, and published sporadically for twelve years. The first issue was done on a TRS-80 Model 2, IBM PC Clone, and Atari 130XE with a 9 pin B&W dot matrix printer. We printed out the articles in condensed type, and hand pasted them and the graphics onto a blank sheet of paper. After that we used an AT&T PC6300 with PFS: First Publisher for the next seven issues. I think I still have the 20MB MFM drive from that first box lying around somewhere. Subsequent issues were done with various PCs and Ink Jet Printers using Microsoft Works, MS Word, and MS Publisher. We ran a total of twenty-two issues. Like most other hacker 'zines, getting quality articles was always a hassle, and unlike some other hacker 'zines we didn't want to print crap. We received some pretty good reviews from various magazines: Factsheet Five, Wired, Mondo 2000, and Iron Feather Journal to name a few. The number of subscribers reached about 500 at one point, and I suspect most were making multiple copies and handing them out to friends. We gave the H/P community permission to do so during Summercon '92 in St. Louis. While it would have been nice to make a decent profit on the 'zine and turn it into a full-time business, it really was a labor of love and at best it probably broke even. All things considered it probably ran at a slight loss. Many subscribers had extra issues tacked onto their subscriptions if they took the time to correspond with us, and we gave out free lifetime subscriptions to anyone who helped us out in any manner as our way of saying "thanks". When we went to hacker cons or 2600 meetings, we always made copies of the current issue and gave them away to attendees.

"Cybertek is *the* cyberpunk zine, if one's definition of cyberpunk is making use of available or appropriated technology to obtain, analyze and disseminate real information through legal or illegal channels. Information relating to survival or personal freedom is especially important within the context of this definition. Cybertek offers an excellent balance of 'hard' and 'soft' technologies and strategies to live a life free of authoritarian interference. We just received the last three issues of Cybertek, in which one will find schematics for a cheesebox (to turn two phone numbers into a loop line), a phone bug and a tone generator, tips on recognizing and looking through propaganda, knives as self-defense weapons, alternative news gathering techiques (zines, shortwave radio, CSPAN), guerilla warfare tactics, simple encryption techniques and steam power resources. It's 2600 recombined with The Poor Man's James Bond, it's *the* sourcezine for survivalist-hackers."
- Jerod Pore, Wired & Factsheet Five

For a while, Cybertech spawned a small following among the computer underground in the NY/CT area. You could buy copies off the shelf at Trash American Style, in Danbury, CT, and we maintained a presence on a few local BBSes. Local hacker groups used to help out with the grunt work of stuffing, stamping, and mailing envelopes. We also sponsored a couple local punk rock concerts for various charities in the area. For a while we maintained a place in Danbury. It was almost a perpetual party with all sorts of interesting people visiting at all hours, bringing food and alcohol. We'd go dumpster diving, and filled up the basement of the place with salvaged technology. In many ways it was a classic Cyberpunk existence.

Cybertech belonged to a special era of the computer underground. It was a time that we began to see increased online connectivity with not only an explosion of BBSes and Fidonet, but also distinct nationwide online services such as AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve. The Internet has yet to come into existence as such, although its parent networks such as Arpanet were around. Things were poised to explode in more than one way. I remember during the Summer of 1991 I was working at a Boy Scout Camp in upstate New York. I didn't have a PC handy, so I was using a 5-subject spiral notebook to write article rough drafts in. One of my fellow counselors, who later wrote an article for Cybertech, had brought his shortwave receiver. We were listening to Radio Moscow, The Voice of America, and trying to get Radio Vilinus as the Cold War and the Soviet Union came to an end. I wondered if the risk of a strike against the US was going to increase as the Soviets lost control of their country and their nukes.

"Half of its pages are filled with source code and schematics, and the disclaimer "For Educational Purposes Only" at the bottom of every page lets you know this is really about getting your feet wet and your hands dirty. Spooks pay through the nose for this kind of tech; with a little intelligence and some elbow grease, you can play the same games."
- Wired 2.01, Street Cred

A lot of articles from the first issues were originally placed on The Net back in the early 1990s complements of Brian Oblivion and Count Zero, formerly of the l0pht. I've begun to scan in some of those early issues so people can get a better sense of how the 'zine was. There were also some articles and graphics from those issues that never made it to The Net until now.

Cybertek Issue #1 - March/April 1990. Our first, funky, crudely slapped-together issue.
Cybertek Issue #2 - May/June 1990. This one was our first done with PFS:First Publisher on an 8086 AT&T PC6300 that would be the Cybertek workhorse for five years. This one was published right after the release of GURPS: Cyberpunk, and has a short interview with Loyd Blankenship (a/k/a The Mentor). Cybertek fans will also recognize the article on Pirate Radio that Sin and I wrote which seems to have propagated all over The Net. There was a schematic of an FM Broadcast Band amplifier that wasn't included in the article reprint, and is now available for your perusal.
Cybertek Issue #3 - September/October 1990. Phantom Writer's well-received essay "Why Cyberpunk?", Hanover Fist makes his first appearance, the Omega Man talks about economic survival, one of the first articles in a hacker magazine about data tapping, electronics improvisation information, and how TVs could be used to listen to (AMPS) cellular phones.
Cybertek Issue #4 - November/December 1990. This issue was more alternative medicine-focused with articles on the risks of being an organ donor, information on Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), and the benefits of Ginseng. This was also the issue with the widely-distributed "Countermeasures" article. "Countermeasures" was yet another article that lost it's graphic element; in this instance schematics for "burn boxes". Issue #4 also had schematics for a wireless TV transmitter and Hanover Fist's article on Pragmatism.
Cybertek Issue #5 - January/February 1991. Our first "famous" issue in that an article from it was reproduced and made its way to Arpanet and Usenet. The article was Black Manta's garage door opener hacker. John Williams from Consumertronics contributed an article entitled Hiding Yourself which was pretty ironic considering how the 'zine came about. There were also cheesebox plans and some other interesting schematics. Jason Scott, who later founded and produced the BBS Dcoumentary, contributed some cool artwork.
Cybertek Issue #6 - The First Anniversary Issue.
Cybertek Issue #8. This was the last of the issues put together with PFS:First Publisher.

The ad for Cybertek's first BBS, circa the early 1990s. Note the baud rate and amount of online storage.

Cybertek Issue #15
Cybertek Issue #16.

Cybertech 10th Anniversary Issue

Cybertech Volume 3:

The Pine Tree Journal, Vol I, Issue #1

Artwork from Cybertek Issue #5 - Jan/Feb 1991, by Jason Scott.

Here is the collection of Classic Cybertech articles originally on L0pht:
Editorial from Issue #1
Comparison Of 12 vs. 20 Gauge Shotguns.
Another View On Survival.
Home made Armor
Solution #1: Go Beserk
Special Forces Caching Techniques
Cellular Phone Reception With a TV
The Day After: Household Hints
Digital Radio Communications
Economic Survival
Electronic Expertise
FAX Tricks
Hiding Yourself
Improvise With Electronic Components
Some Interesting ICs
It's Not Who's Right, But Who's Left
The Kukri Knife
Pirate Radio
Radio Communications
Surplus Weapons
Survival Sunglasses
Survival Kits
Why Cyberpunk?
Williams' Tips For Wrenching Times

There was also 5 issues of an electronic version of Cybertech. These were done during the mid 90's, and contained articles from the print versions released during that time-frame.
Issue #1
Issue #2
Issue #3
Issue #4
Issue #5

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