The Night the Lights Went Out in Vegas

Thirty years ago, a young hacker named Jeff Moss (aka The Dark Tangent) threw a party in the desert of Nevada to commemorate the demise of a bulletin board system called PlatinumNet. Unlike the other handful of hacker conferences in that time, this one would be on the West Coast and open to everyone. Over the next three decades, DEF CON would become the preeminent hacker convention for the US (possibly the world), drawing upwards of 30,000 attendees. Along with its more-corporate spinoff Black Hat and related BSides conference, the back-to-back conferences are affectionately referred to as Hacker Summer Camp. In today’s show, I’ll walk down memory lane with Jeff, discussing the ups and downs he’s experienced and delve into what this has all meant to him, personally. Oh yeah… and also the incident involving strippers and hacking the power grid.

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:00:31: Hacker Summer Camp
  • 0:03:30: pre-interview things of note
  • 0:05:31: DEF CON, the early years
  • 0:12:02: How had DEF CON changed since the beginning?
  • 0:16:08: What’s the closest DEF CON ever came to ending?
  • 0:24:44: Why is DEF CON so full of shennanigans?
  • 0:26:49: What has DEF CON meant to you, personally?
  • 0:32:02: Thoughts on the DEF CON culture
  • 0:37:13: What’s your “Jeff sense” on choosing the best people?
  • 0:39:50: What’s in the future for DEF CON?
  • 0:46:13: What speakers have you always wanted but couldn’t get?
  • 0:51:04: learning more about hackers and hacking
  • 0:53:50: Where does “2600” come from?
  • 0:57:18: Important notes for new listeners