Reaper (program)

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Original author(s)Ray Tomlinson
Initial release1972
Operating systemTENEX

Reaper was the first anti-virus software. It was created by Ray Tomlinson to move across the ARPANET and delete the transmitting Creeper program.[1] Creeper had been an experimental computer program originally written by Bob Thomas at BBN in 1971.[2] Its original iteration was designed to move between DEC PDP-10 mainframe computers running the TENEX operating system using the ARPANET. A later version by Ray Tomlinson designed to copy itself between computers rather than simply move, thus making Ray Tomlinson the father of the computer worm.[1]

Creeper was not malicious but was the first example of a computer worm.[3][4] The only effect being a message it output to the teletype reading "I'm the creeper: catch me if you can".[4] Strictly speaking, the second worm introduced on ARPANET was Reaper as it was a worm, meant to delete any instances of Creeper that it could find.[1]


  1. ^ a b c John Metcalf (2014). "Core War: Creeper & Reaper". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  2. ^ Thomas Chen, Jean-Marc Robert (2004). "The Evolution of Viruses and Worms" (PDF). Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  3. ^ IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Volumes 27–28. IEEE Computer Society, 2005. 74. "[...]from one machine to another led to experimentation with the Creeper program, which became the world's first computer worm: a computation that used the network to recreate itself on another node, and spread from node to node. The source code of creeper remains unknown."
  4. ^ a b From the first email to the first YouTube video: a definitive internet history. Tom Meltzer and Sarah Phillips. The Guardian. 23 October 2009