Elk Cloner celebrates Silver Jubilee!

Elk Cloner the first virus was created in 1982 by Rich Skrenta, a 15-year-old high school student. Skrenta was already distrusted by his friends because, in illegally sharing computer games and software, he would often alter the floppy disks to display taunting on-screen messages. During a winter break from the Mt. Lebanon High School in Pennsylvania, United States, Skrenta discovered how to launch the messages automatically on his Apple II computer. He developed what is now known as a boot sector virus, and began circulating it in early 1982 among high school friends and a local computer club.

The prank, though annoying to victims, is relatively harmless compared with the viruses of today. Every 50th time someone booted an infected disk, a poem he wrote would appear, saying in part, “It will get on all your disks; it will infiltrate your chips. Although over the next 25 years, Skrenta started the online news business Topix, helped launch a collaborative web directory now owned by Time Warner’s Netscape and wrote countless other computer programs, he is still remembered most for unleashing the “Elk Cloner” virus on the world.