In 1986, when the computer revolution was front-page news, a bold thriller called The Trapdoor was published, about a hacker who gets in trouble with organized crime and has to hack his way out.
Under the pseudonym of The Lightning, a tech-savvy nerd lives quietly in a small apartment, stealing a little here and a little there, as much for the thrill as for the money. But when he’s drawn, naively, into the underworld of big-time cyber theft and online pornography, he realizes he’s not safely anonymous any longer. He has enemies. And it’s bad enough that they’re trying to kill him; it’s worse that they’re stealing his secret hacker identity!
The modern computer era began in the early 1980s, when The Trapdoor takes place. Communication between computers had to be dialed up over telephone lines. Data storage was measured in mere kilobytes. Email, cellphones and the internet were years away in the future. What was high-technology in 1980 looks primitive now, but it was the state-of-the-art at the time. And people who mastered it could do some remarkable things with it, both legal and illegal.
Technology has evolved since those days. But as long as loners find inner strength to overcome bullies, this period-piece will remain an inspiration.
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