From a young age, Nelson was tinkering with electronics, aided and abetted by his father who was a physicist that had become an engineer. Nelson enrolled at MIT in 1963 and quickly became known for hooking up the AI Lab's PDP-1 (and later the PDP-6) to the telephone network, making him one of the first phreakers. Nelson later accomplished other feats like hardwiring additional instructions into the PDP-1. Nelson was hired by Ed Fredkin's Information International Inc. at the urging of Marvin Minsky to work on PDP-7 programs at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
The group of young hackers was known for working on systems after hours. One night, Nelson and others decided to rewire MIT’s PDP-1 as a prank. Later, Margaret Hamilton tried to use the DEC-supplied DECAL assembler on the machine and it crashed repeatedly.
- http://web.mit.edu/quentin/Documents/Class%20Notes/STS.001/. Retrieved September 24, 2019. Missing or empty
- Levy, Steven (1984). "Chapter 5: The Midnight Computer Wiring Society". Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 0-440-13405-6.
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