Think making fun of someone’s communication started with the Internet? Then you have never been in a public bathroom, or at a wireless telegraph station in Cornwall with Guglielmo Marconi. Today in 1901, Marconi received a patent for wireless communication. Two years later to the day, he decided to hold a public demonstration showing how secure a long-distance Morse code transmission could be, namely by transmitting a message to a waiting audience in London.
Before he could send his historic message, however, some wiseass beat him to it. A rival set up shop nearby with his own transmitter, sending the word “rats” over and over again, then transmitting a rude and colorful limerick along with other insults to the waiting machine, which promptly printed out the hack. While Marconi did not address the incident himself, the hacker and Marconi’s colleague started a flame war in the early 20th century version of Internet comments: the “Letters” section of The Times. Insults, exposing security flaws, and overreaching to control new technology: the medium may change, but not human nature.Tweet