Yeah, what IS Crunch doing now? The talk is of Captain Crunch, or John Draper, the guy who got famous for hacking the US phone system in the 60’s.

crunch.jpg

With a whistle. Found in a cereal box (that went by the name of Cap’n Crunch, hence the name).

Two years ago I stumbled upon a feature in the Wall Street Journal, describing his descent into poverty and his inability to fit in with the rest of the working world. The Twilight Years of Cap’n Crunch is a sobering read about Genius without a marketing department. I could use fancy words and talk about his psychological condition, but that’s what it basically boils down to. While Wozniak and Jobs went on to become tech-millionaires, Crunch dabbled around in the rave scene, did some web design in return for physical therapy, and started piling up debt.

“After breakfast, Mr. Draper returned to his one-room apartment beside
a four-lane expressway. The apartment was in squalor, with open
cereal boxes, clothes in trash bags, computers and old newspapers
strewn about. Mr. Draper left an angry voice message for a client who
hadn’t paid for some programming work. He fretted that without the
money he would have difficulty covering his electricity bill that month.

“I’m blacklisted, man, a permanent menace to society, I guess,” he
said. “It’s too bad because there are some things I think I could
contribute
.”

It’s hard to say if his situation has gotten any better. Both the article, his homepage and Wikipedia list him as an employee of en2go, a Steve-Wozniak-owned company. While the article talks about him “working” for en2go, Wikipedia and the company’s page mention him as CTO. Well, good for him. I hope they’ve given him a pay raise. Then again, being a CTO nowadays could mean just that: Living next to a four-lane expressway in a one-room-apartement, not being able to pay for health care. Ah well, happy times.