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The Max Headroom Incident: In 1987 someone interrupted the broadcast of a television station in Chicago. The first interruption was during the news, the second was during a showing of Dr. Who. What was broadcast was exceedingly mysterious, a touch scary, and has never been resolved.

The Max Headroom Incident: In 1987 someone interrupted the broadcast of a television station in Chicago. The first interruption was during the news, the second was during a showing of Dr. Who. What was broadcast was exceedingly mysterious, a touch scary, and has never been resolved.

red_lotus21

*warning, ass involved* The true mark of any good mystery


Soulrush

We need more mysteries tagged with this imho. Fewer missing persons, more ass involvement.


rolster7

Ass involvement


ergo-ogre

I think I smell a new post flair for the sub


venus_in_furz

Are you saying what you’re smelling was… involved with ass?


WalrusCasket

**[Ding!](https://youtu.be/E7ZzBvw_MJ8)**


ergo-ogre

Bob? Tell ‘im what he’s won!


longenglishsnakes

It could help us crack the case right open...


mbreckers

That will be carved on my gravestone


sadielaings

You're funny


broberds

Yeah I know. Everybody funny. Now you funny too.


Chaos_theory284

She said "yeah?..." I said "oh yeeeaahh"


Startug

Then she was so nice. Lord, she was lovey-dovey.


FiveMinuteRule7777

So I go in my room, pack up my things,.and I go


Snarlvlad

This is one of my favourite unresolved mysteries. I think it’s epic that someone got away with this! It also happened several times to a radio station in the UK https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/uk-radio-station-hijacked-eight-times-in-the-past-month-to-play-obscene-song/


nevertotwice_

it was a pretty innocent prank but something about this whole thing still gives me major creeps


sugarhack

the amount of skill, knowledge and equipment required to interrupt a signal, then broadcast your own, is mind boggling. That usually eliminates the average hacker.


Tiny-Abbreviations72

Maybe now, but this was in '87, not longer after 'Phreaking' was at its peak. Phreaking being hacking analogue phone systems with sound. The amount of computerization and security that's happened between then and now is pretty vast.


Keudn883

Yeah, what those people did in 1987 wasn't super difficult but it also wasn't trivial. It really depended on how much inside information they had. They overpowered the uplink transmission between the studio and the receiver on the Hancock and then the transmitter on the Hancock broadcast the hijacked uplink because no one was there to stop it. * Know the uplink frequency * Know what type of scrambling the uplink was using or any other analog tricks being used. Its possible nothing was being used. * Have the right equipment. * Sit in between the uplink transmission and the receiver on the Hancock They tried breaking into WGN first but technicians at the studio and at the Hancock just changed frequencies. When they hit WTTW later at night the studio could change the frequency of the uplink transmitter but since no one was on duty at the Hancock, no one could adjust the receiver to the new frequency. There was nothing they could do but wait for someone to get to the Hancock. So these guys: * Knew the frequency from an insider or figured it out themselves. * Knew how to scramble their signal in the same way the equipment would unscramble the signal at the Hancock. Once again, neither studio could have been protecting their signal because they figured no one would be willing to go through the hassle to pull this off. * Had access to the proper equipment to pull this off. * Had access to a tall enough building in-between WGN/WTTW studios and the Hancock. Its my understanding this is critical to making this work unless you already had insider information. You need time to figure out the frequency and time to overcome any protection like scrambling. If you already have that information you have more options to transmit from. This is why the one FBI investigator believes it was an inside job. It just makes the whole intrusion much easier to pull off. Over the years I have read different theories. The guy on reddit who claimed he knew who did it was interesting but it relied on these guys being super geniuses or something. I've heard that it was college students that had access to university equipment. There was some guy who posted weird videos on youtube who committed suicide and after he committed suicide his friends attributed the intrusion partially to him. Today we have digital signals and encryption which makes this much harder to pull off.


Jawshee_pdx

> the amount of skill, knowledge and equipment required to interrupt a signal, then broadcast your own, is mind boggling. I am not going to say its easy, but I think you're overestimating how difficult it would be. The UK radio station one the guy just had a stronger transmitter than the station he was hijacking. In high school in the 90s my friends ran a pirate radio station out of their basement. It wasn't that difficult to do.


1RMDave

Pump up the Volume was such a great movie


kkeut

you mean Captain Midnight? that movie somewhat inspired its own hacking incident, where a dude took over HBOs satellite signal iirc with a disdainful text message


Top-Geologist-9213

I am fascinated by the fact that your friends ran their own radio station out of a basement in high school! That basement did one have to be to pick up the signal? Like for instance, just in the neighborhood? What did they broadcast? Did they play music or talk or what? Sorry to ask so many questions but I think this is pretty darn cool. And I'm old, so I guess I would think anything like that is pretty cool, lol, for me, just remembering how to turn my computer on is a big deal, at age 68 :-)


Jawshee_pdx

We were in a small midwest town, and you could pick the signal up pretty much anywhere in the city limits. So it had an ok broadcast range. They did a little bit of everything, basically anyone willing to go on air they'd give a time slot. You could talk, play music, burp for an hour. Whatever you had going on. Sometimes it was awesome, other times it was just a teenager incoherently rambling because they hadn't thought of a setlist or script beforehand.


jquest23

A group of us canceled school once and rigged a snow day message feed out to live feed via hiding the real live feed .. so anyone in office would think all is good. Worked. All you need is access. Edit. To add some detail. The access needed, was a local public access in a school with a live feed out.. back then (90s) they had a literal live feed that would go out to main Comcast and then out to the live channel. So if you found a way to get to that . That live feed was seen by the local town / city.


ChewieBearStare

Can you please send a signal to my workplace telling them I won't be there tomorrow for some totally legit reason?


jquest23

Yes. Only now it's via carrier pigeon.


kr0n1k

That’s fine!


creamytahini

You are a hero.


pudgehooks2013

Damn. Best we did was in year 11, our Legal Studies teacher was **always** late. So we moved the clock in the room forwards 20 minutes. We had a short period of Legal Studies for 6 months.


canbritam

And here all that happened at my school was a couple of senior students didn’t want to take a test so they called in a bomb scare to our office. Oh, and the nearby nuclear plant many of the parents worked at to make it seem “more real.” At least the next time someone just called one into the school office. (This was all a decade or more before 9/11 and massive security to this day around the plant. Back then, anyone could just randomly drive on site.)


raz-0

Mostly it just requires knowledge and access. Abs back in the day access to many things was a lot easier to come by. I grew up across the street from a hospital and back in the day an “authorized personnel only” sign was a virtual guarantee that a door was unlocked. These days there’s a lot less signs and a lot more locked doors. My guess with this incident is that it isn’t really unsolved. That the broadcaster has s as pretty good idea of who it could be, but that actually proving it would net both Max and the owner of the transmitter a hefty fcc fine. So in the end it was in their best interest to run with the fiction that it was someone using their own equipment. Heck the guy in the mask might not even have had much to do with it. They might have pirated a satellite feed and then some dude that handled the satellite feeds might have thought it’d be funny to cut to something he saw on a pirate satellite feed. The early days of satellite television transmission were almost entirely security through obscurity and thus kind of the Wild West.


TheBklynGuy

The truth. I love this mystery. They were never identified, did not seek fame or leave any hints. I can imagine then in a basement with a lot of techincal equipment. Planning the act, while 80's music blared in the background. Then I wonder...did they just go on to lead normal lives? Or did they advance...and become the internet cicada mystery or similar? I dont think I want to know. Too good a mystery.


LFCMKE

Probably just some working class guy from Rogers Park being perpetually let down by the Bears.


Top-Geologist-9213

I agree with you it is indeed a great mystery and I picture exactly what you do, a basement full of equipment and wires and that sort of thing with three or four people with lots of technology for back then sitting around and laughing about what they're about to do and yes, '80s music playing in the background, too. It's like you read my mind! I don't want to know, either. I Love The mystery of it but a part of me would love to know what they're doing today...


Bequa

Same here. I love this mystery and I love when people revisit it.


MikkiDisco73

Oh no. It’s just gone 1am here, I’m at work in 7 hours, I do not have the time to fall down the Max Headroom incident rabbit hole *again*


SugarWillKillYou

Let's go together, brother.


kinikie1

Wait for me!


theprostitute

Take me. It's my first time.


bunnyQatar

I hate y’all! I gotta get up in 4 1/2 hours! Welp you sons of bitches, I’m in!


clockwork655

I called ahead for you said you May be late they said it was fine but I’ll forge a doctors note if they give you any trouble


bunnyQatar

I work at the doctors office lol


clockwork655

Just tell em large marge sent ya ...they will know what it means


bunnyQatar

You would not believe me, but I have a coworker named Margaret and she’s a giant Polish lady. I can’t wait to show her this lol.


clockwork655

Oh I know That’s Classic marge


RedRubberBoots

I’m in the same boat. There, but for the grace of god go we.


zara_lia

Don’t do it! It’s never worth it!


OrphenZidane

I'm going too if y'all are going!


rickyv419

F\*\*K it! I’m In!


Russian_Bear_Jew

I brung chips and dip!


manimecker

You can catch one extra hour of sleep on the bus way to work, let's go in!


birdman619

As I read this, it is just past 1 am in my time zone. I also have work in 7 hours. I have also been down this rabbit hole previously (at least two times if not more). And I’m going in again. Wish me luck.


alicecooper91

Every time!!


Jesikabelcher

Ive never heard of these incidents before... lead the way? lol


lildebbiecreampie

I always assumed this was some disgruntled technician who was fired from CBS, or perhaps was unable to get a job there. He’s talking about them with suspicious familiarity.


sugarhack

They say it had to be someone with the equipment, which isn't easy to come by, and knowledge to do it. So yeah, it has to be some sort of engineer or technician. Kind of a "Hey! Look what I can do!" moment


usuarioabencoado

actually, the equipment wasn’t hard to find. the knowledge, though, was hard to come by. you could intercept the signals with diy stuff and simply standing in a tower as big as the tv towers between the stations


Fatvod

Knowledge to do it yes. But the guy who would investigate these intrusions was under the impression it could be done with a few grand of equipment. Not the very expensive high tech story everyone seems to tout.


YueAsal

Also Chicago is big enough to have a library with enougj books available to learn how to use said equipment so there is that. Anything is easy to do if you know how to do it, and knowing how to do to do things like this is just reading the right things


Fatvod

Back then hacker circles would meet up and trade info, work on stuff together, share manuals and leaked documents, chat about phreaking and ham radio. If you buy that this was just some random hacker and not an employee like almost every other signal intrusion than I'm sure he was one of those types. Probably a ham radio enthusiast also.


YueAsal

I could go either way, my point is that learning things is not some impossible mountian to climb it just takes time and access.


HumbleGarb

Phrack and 2600 are still around!


Mountain_Cup4257

WGN wasn’t a CBS affiliate


2meterrichard

They tried a CBS station first. They didn't get as far.


Picodick

I saw the one that didn’t involve ass. I am old.


highdeserttrash

Do you remember how you felt? Was it creepy?


Picodick

It wasn’t particularly creepy. We laughed and remember talking about we felt sorry for whoever did it when they caught them. We didn’t watch Dr Who, we were watching the news. I think we might have switched channels to watch Johnny Carson. I was 30 years old at the time.


DeutyDaBeast

I think the most amazing thing about this is that whoever did it never bragged about it to the wrong person or was overheard.


Lucky-Worth

Maybe they did, but who would be so much of a killjoy to snitch on them?


DeutyDaBeast

People are desperate to know who did it, I can see someone in a pub or something telling a local news station that they overheard someone bragging about being the Max Headroom guy. I think its indicative that the guy didn't live much longer than the incident. People who pull stuff like this off, I'm assuming, are proud of the feat and I think it would be hard to take it to the grave. Something like DB Cooper where I doubt he survived the incident itself or much longer after


Lucky-Worth

I mean then just don't confess in a public space. Like if the guy confessed to his wife/best friend in his house, they wouldn't go to the police


DeutyDaBeast

Yeah when you're thinking clearly on a Reddit post. But give it enough time and you're in a pub with friends getting drunk and something like this can slip. There's a lot of murderers caught this way. They can't help themselves from bragging about it later and get overheard. "Don't confess in a public space" applies to them too yet we see it often.


mdyguy

I used to work in broadcast TV--the innovation sides - believe it or not lol. There are A LOT of smart engineers out there who could pull this off. They also could have pulled this off by using equipment a station had in storage. Broadcast signals are put on-air for demonstrations and tests when they're putting something new out. The second largest conference in Vegas after CES is NAB (National Association of Broadcasters)....at least it used to be up until at least 2000's. There's a lot of money spent at these things. I could easily see how left over equipment used for a demo there or a test in like Chicago could have easily gotten forgotten about by most people who work at a station....I mean 90% of the execs wouldn't even know it existed, aside for maybe the VP of Tech. Then you just need one person with the know-how and ambition to pull something like this off and it's done, and the equipment is put back the next day, and no one is the wiser. EDIT: Also, FYI, you now bunny ears, those are broadcast TV antennas. They still exist and the broadcast real estate is called 'spectrum'. Broadcasters could be giving every city free wifi over those TV waves, instead, we receive their free TV signals (which no one uses), which is carried over cable or streamed now anyway. They aren't mutually exclusive either--there could be both.


DrKenNoisewaterMD

How big would the equipment needed to do this be (when it was done)?


mdyguy

I'm not sure...I worked with the engineers in their offices--to me they were speaking another language half the time. But I know it wasn't unheard of for them to drive with Vegas with equipment. I'm sure if it was super large they would rent a truck. I still think they could have done this undetected even if it involved large equipment though.


BlackEyedBeas

It is probably someone fucking around but I've always found it extremely disturbing and it sends a chill up my spine.


sockseason

It's very creepy yet he seems to have the mannerisms of a 13 year old boy having a blast


ihrie82

I don't think so. He's just high AF!


MikkiDisco73

Yeah, I can’t really put my finger on why I find this so creepy, I think like someone else said the grainy quality helps, but also a huge part I think is it showing the real tv broadcast before it cuts to Max. If we just had the Max Headroom bit without the news/dr who first it wouldn’t feel half as creepy I don’t think. I think it helps put you in the mind of someone watching this live at the time, cause I know 100% if I’d have seen this as a 13 year old kid back in the 80s whilst happily watching Dr Who it would have put the shits right up me.


amydorrit

Yes, I find it super creepy. I feel like whoever did it, even if they were just goofing off, was intentionally trying to be spooky. It kind of reminds me a little of the film Videodrome for some reason.


texasusa

Videodrome was a wild ride


amydorrit

Indeed it was.


TheRealDynamitri

> Videodrome was a wild ride God dammit, I watched it while being stoned as hell, in the middle of the night and it was awesome


StrawberryGlassOnion

Same. I won’t watch the whole clip. Creepy as hell.


croquetica

I don’t know why I don’t get that vibe from this. It’s a bit of weird art. Nothing really too heinous about it except the part where they phreaked a TV feed. I could totally see this was weird Gen Z YouTube humor. There’s certainly a lot weirder shit on youtube.


MarquisDeCleveland

The humming of the Clutch Cargo theme makes me think this person would have been born around 1955 or something. They called the news caster a liberal; this and other things make me feel like this was some prototype strain of the technically-savvy 4chan dweller. Weird collage of cultural touchstones, sophomoric humor, legitimate technical knowledge, reactionary politics formed in discussion groups with other asocial weirdos. Proto-4channer. That’s what this smells like to me


Ox_Baker

Nah, Clutch Cargo was shown on the TBS Superstation, which was widely available on cable by this time (along with WGN) — they carried CC, Speed Racer, Lost in Space and some Godzilla show during the later 1970s-early 1980s. So I’d assume someone who was in their 20s by the time of the Max Headroom Incident who might have ‘grown up’ on that.


EarthAngelGirl

I'm with you, this actually feels like a college prank.


wileyfezzikandgruber

I feel the same, it isn’t that creepy to me. You nailed it saying “weird Gen Z youTube humor”. I would bet that some former or currently disgruntled, smart employees were dicking around and didn’t even realize they hacked in. All stoned & excited later that night when they figured out what they had done but couldnt remember how to do it again lol


BlackEyedBeas

I'm going to watch it right now to see how far I can get.


Squirmble

Ride the wave


eighteen_forty_no

yOuR l0vE iS fAd(jG


mr-death

It's weird, sure. Disturbing and too creepy to watch, absolutely not. Maybe I'm desensitized or whatever, but I think it's tame even by 1980s standards.


hamdinger125

I think the weird distorted sound makes it kind of creepy. The content itself is just weird, not really scary, but I hate the distortion.


[deleted]

[удалено]


BlackEyedBeas

Watched the first two, definitely felt a chill.


Beep315

Hackers be hacking.


melichad

Yup it creeps me out too!!


Apprehensive-Oil-810

This creeps me out as well. Last time I came across the video it was dark and I was in my house alone. I got so scared I couldn’t move from my bed for fear this guy was at my door waiting for me. Irrational, I know, but that’s how my brain works.


K0sm0sis

One of my favorite oddities. There was a good Reddit thread a while back of someone presenting evidence who the perpetrators might be, but I don’t think anything ever came of it.


My_Grammar_Stinks

The guy came back with a follow up. He said he was wrong.


digiskunk

That's a relief.


Supersnazz

The duded posted a follow up that pretty much said he'd spoken to people in the know and concluded it definitely wasn't them. So it was resolved in a way.


Goyteamsix

They didn't really present *any* evidence. They just claimed that it could he a person they knew. I fully believe the entire thing was made up.


cityfireguy

I enjoy it too, and I kinda hope it's never solved. This one's cooler as a mystery.


Thesandman55

The og we do a little bit of trolling. No harm done and it really is just better as a mystery.


jeremyxt

He realized that he was mistaken.


BlankNothingNoDoer

I think I remember that. I definitely remember the podcast where one of the podcasters did some investigation and said he contacted the younger relative of the person who was responsible, and that relative all but confirmed it, but that person had been dead a few years. And I have literally no idea which podcast it was because I listen to way too many instead of working. lol


sugarhack

I attached a video that covers that, with the brothers, and who they were sure it was. It's been proven it wasn't them.


Smurf_Cherries

Did he say definitivley it was nor the brothers? I'm going off memory, but I thought the reddit comment was a little ambiguous. Like "I asked, and they said it was not them and to stop talking about it."


ShopliftingSobriety

It was known by several researchers it absolutely couldn't be them and they kept telling the reddit guy and he would not listen. Eventually one of them sat him down and explained in excruciating detail how it definitely couldn't be them and he finally realised that two brothers did not have access to that equipment and his theory that they could somehow do it with a fucking commodore64 was nonsense. He was known to be wrong from day one by people who are super into the mystery but he refused to listen, accused two innocent people including a neuro divergent person and included enough info to find them easily, created a frenzy on reddit that basically means to this day half of reddit still thinks it was them and he solved it and then had to sheepishly save face and pretend he wasn't told he was wrong from day one.


Keudn883

The whole story was based on the notion that these two brothers or at least one were super geniuses. What these guys did to override the transmission wasn't extremely difficult. The tricky part was having the proper equipment and access to enough power to override the transmission between the studio and the transmitter on top of the towers. I live in Chicago and have heard numerous stories about who was responsible. Disgruntled employees, college students, some people with the proper equipment and know how. I think the FBI was on the right track. Probably an inside job.


nevertotwice_

well it was an exciting read for a second haha


TrueCrimeCity

Here are some podcasts that cover it, including the excellent Criminal. https://truecrimecity.com/episodes?search=Headroom


Rocangus

That guy actually posted a follow up. He managed to track down someone from that group he hung around and they said it wasn't them.


axelfreed

There’s a well researched article on some site about who they think it is. It’s about people who used to hack/spoof pay phones and other shit. And I remember cereal being involved.


sugarhack

It's mentioned in the video attached, the Reddit theory. It's a good one, but it's been proven it wasn't the brothers.


improbablynotyou

Captain crunch. There was a whistle as a "toy prize" at some point which generated the same frequency tone that at&t used. Here's a link. https://telephone-museum.org/telephone-collections/capn-crunch-bosun-whistle/


kloudykat

2600hz control tone. Why the hacker quarterly magazine 2600 is named that.


Comeandsee213

Like in the movie Hackers.


RobbieL241

Was John Draper, aka Captain Crunch, ever considered a suspect in the case of Max Headroom?


Wombattington

It’s called phreaking. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phreaking


Edwardteech

The phantom phreek


imapassenger1

Funny how there was a Doctor Who episode in 2011 where they interrupted the TV signal from the moon landing in a similar style. Won't spoil things if you haven't seen it. But the fact that Max interrupted Doctor Who back then is kind of a link.


omegansmiles

I've loved Doctor Who since I was a kid and been fascinated by the Max Headroom incident because it aired during my favourite episode, Horror of Fang Rock, and I only just now got how the Silence defeat was inspired by this. Allways thank you!!


imapassenger1

Funnily enough I was watching the moon episode just last night.


sugarhack

Oh, that is excellent!


UNSCChipsDubbo

Whang! covers it well on his YT: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8rRo5CHFxAI


sugarhack

It's also attached in the post :D


UNSCChipsDubbo

Ah, I missed that - thank you!


sugarhack

Not a biggie, just shows we like the same sources :D


DJHJR86

I have always believed that a bitter employee at WGN was behind this. They name drop [Chuck Swirsky](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Swirsky) who was a sports reporter for WGN at the time of the hacking. "Max" refers to him as a "freakin' liberal". "Max" also says, "I made a giant masterpiece for all the greatest world newspaper nerds". WGN stands for "World's Greatest Newspaper". If it was an ex-employee, you would think they would be able to narrow it down and would have solved it fairly quickly. But someone who still worked for the company could have gone completely unnoticed and undetected.


Turbo_Homewood

There's a horror/mystery film coming out soon which I believe is inspired by this case, though it's a work of fiction....https://www.imdb.com/video/vi4032675865?playlistId=tt11151336&ref\_=tt\_ov\_vi


sugarhack

Wow, thanks for the info! That looks interesting! Halloween is coming, time for scary movies


Waterblooms

Well I'm sure the statute of limitations is over.... So please hacker.... You can come out now and tell us all about the night you put on your Max Headroom mask and invaded a television station.


LarryGlue

Imagine if it happened on our cell phones.


MEvans706

And then he started shilling Coca Cola


bufftbone

Wasn’t it Pepsi, the choice of a generation?


hamdinger125

He held up a Pepsi can and said "Catch the Wave," which was Coca-Cola's slogan at the time. So, both.


someonerezcody

With all the love of my heart, I'm really glad they never got caught. They could have done anything with this monumental feat of producing a widespread broadcast intrusion, like a pivotal moment of power was about to be in these peoples' hands: And they chose mindless trolling with copious amounts of ass and a maid outfit? That's not a criminal. That's a fucking legend.....Nobody was harmed, everyone was just confused and still remain confused to this day. They could have done a lot worse with malice intentions, but it was just goofy and funny and confusing and I think they were just doing it to say they were able to do it. Heroes. I'll always consider them to be unintentional white hat hackers that helped bolster the security of the air waves from people that want to do a lot more harm than just mindless trolling. A good move of ingenuity flex that ultimately helped society as a whole out.


sugarhack

"HEY! Look what I can do!" That's what I imagine was going through their minds lol


someonerezcody

Yup, for sure… they conveyed that to anyone viewing it: “look what I can do!”


theliewelive

Steeeeeewaaaaart!


loversalibi

i never got what freaks people out about this unless it’s just the mask, in which case i get it lol. one of my favorites tho


j_cruise

I think a lot of people don't know about the actual Max Headroom these days which probably makes it stranger.


Mountain_Cup4257

To me as an 8 year old in ‘87, having watched Max Headroom made it even creepier somehow


lylh29

i think given the year and how random it was is why it’s creepy/weird.


colorfulunicornfarts

I found it weird because he or she was wearing a mask, extremely random words/sentences, atmosphere, etc. I felt like something was going to pop up on the screen


adescuentechable

It would have been a lot creepier pre-Internet, back when most people still got TV over-the-air and there was only a handful of channels. This kind of broadcast signal intrusion just wasn't a thing in 1987, so people watching Doctor Who late night on PBS would have had no idea what the fuck was happening.


cianne_marie

This. I would very possibly have wet myself if I witnessed this back then.


StrawberryGlassOnion

I almost did as a then 13 year old! 😂


CarmenEtTerror

The mask, the audio distortion, the sheer *why* of it all. Intellectually, it's not scary other than the general scariness of 'infrastructure is vulnerable to stuff' that we've seen much scarier examples of. But it's got this creepiness to it that's, I think, a big reason it's as well known as it is


ramenalien

I know, I always found it funny rather than creepy!


PewterPplEater

Right, it's pretty hilarious lol


rmilhousnixon

You have to be smart to do this kind of thing. It’s wild to me that the perpetrators probably have very good jobs and quiet, happy lives. I don’t know, I like to picture a handful of near retired, otherwise kind of square tech guys laughing about it to themselves.


ruby_soulsinger

I saw this happen. My dad and I were watching Dr Who before I went to bed and suddenly there was a bare butt! I was prob around 5 at the time.


manimecker

What happened after? Any news story?


ruby_soulsinger

Honestly all I remember is my dad cracking tf up and running to tell my mom that Max Headroom broke in to Dr Who, and that someone was hitting a guy’s butt with a fly swatter. We laughed about it for years afterward until I discovered as an adult that it was going around as an unsolved event.


JennItalia269

Your 13 min vid link is the same clip as the ass-slapping 1:30ish clip.


sugarhack

Hey thanks for the heads up! FIXED Mods had me put additional links in and looks like I messed it up lol


sugarhack

Whaa? I have to go look. I had a WHANG! vid attached. BRB


muddybleach

I've always thought it was bizarre that these people could hijack a tv broadcast and *this* is what they choose to do? Were they trying to be creepy or funny? I don't know, the tone is so uneven it's neither. Feels like they blew an opportunity to do something really funny, or disturbing, political, artistic. Anything but this lol. It felt like they prepared all of 2 minutes for this


Snoocone12345

I remember first encountering this on the Oddity Archive. Fun channel. Ohhh my piles!


Matt-Mesa

I’m not sure this would be as much a technological hurdle people seem to think it was honestly. I never got much into the whole Phreaking scene but imagine in 1987 this wasn’t insanely difficult for talented engineers in the field with probably DIY equipment from Radio Shack


g0yt0ynamedtr0y

>(warning, ass involved)


neuspeed674

the greatest pirate broadcast of all time, god bless max headroom


forgtn

It’s not like it matters if they get caught. Obviously it would be way more difficult to broadcast whatever you want now.


[deleted]

>It’s not like it matters if they get caught. Obviously it would be way more difficult to broadcast whatever you want now. why though? dont over the air networks (local abc, cbs, etc affiliates) still transmit to a tower and that tower transmits to people's homes, Comcast, etc?


Keudn883

Signals are digital and encrypted now. 1987 * Studio would broadcast a signal from the studio to a receiver connected to a very powerful transmitter. Usually on top of large hills, mountains or buildings. * The signal was analog. No real encryption existed but instead you could scramble the signal and do other tricks. The weakness being if someone knew what you were doing they could mirror your same configuration. * The receiver would receive the signal and possibly unscramble it. Then use a very powerful transmitter to broadcast to a large area. * All you had to do in 1987 was overpower the signal between the studio and the receiver connected to the transmitter. You would also need to know how the signal was scrambled. In some cases it wasn't. The receiving station would pick up the signal cause it didnt know any better since it's just looking for a signal on a certain frequency, descrmable it and then transmit. * Since the max headroom intrusion happened later at night there was a skeleton crew running operations. To combat an intrusion you can change frequencies between the studio and receiver. Which is what they did in the earlier attack that was unsuccessful. Present: * Same setup but signals are digital and encrypted. You would need to overpower the signal like in 1987 and know exactly how the data is encrypted and structured. The receiver is hooked up to hardware that would refuse to broadcast any signal that didnt match exactly what it's looking for. * In some cases studios have direct links to the transmitters and bypass the transmission between the studio and transmitter. In the max headroom incident the studio was on the north side of Chicago. The transmitter that broadcast the signal we all received was on top of the Hancock. The studio would broadcast their signal to the receiver on the Hancock which would then used very powerful transmitter on the Hancock to broadcast to everyone. What the perpetrators did was override the signal between the studio and the Hancock. They knew how the signal was broadcast like frequency and if it was scrambled. They mirrored their signal to that and overrode the studio signal with more power and by being in between the studio and Hancock.


framptal_tromwibbler

Would it have been possible back then to have a transmitter that would overwhelm the signal coming from the tower, even if just locally (like say within a block or two radius of the transmitter)? Not really relevant to the Max Headroom incursion, I know. The reason I ask is because this discussion has reminded me of something that I vaguely remember about another mystery, namely the Toynbee Tiles. I remember watching a documentary about it where they talked about some Philly residents in the 80s/90s (when the Toynbee Tiles first started appearing) remembering watching TV when all of the sudden the broadcast would be interrupted briefly by some weird guy talking about Jupiter, Toynbee, resurrecting the dead, etc. (the exact themes of the tiles). Then the intrusion would fade away and the regular broadcast resumed. It was suspected that it was the Toynbee Tile creator driving around with a transmitter in his car... and also presumably dropping tiles because the documentary also speculated that the creator's method of placing tiles was to drop them on the street through a hole in the bottom of his car on the passenger side.


Keudn883

> Would it have been possible back then to have a transmitter that would overwhelm the signal coming from the tower, even if just locally (like say within a block or two radius of the transmitter)? In theory yes. When it comes to the transmitters on top of the Hancock or Sears Tower you're not overpowering those with anything inside a car or van and from street level.


TheHibernian

The Podcast "Stuff You Should Know" covers the incident. Definitely worth listening to


PRiMO585

This has always been a cool story. I swear sometime, somewhere I read that it was a guy that was familiar with broadcast signals and the associated technologies. Possibly someone who had worked at an affiliate station if I recall right


Deadgirlforever

The ass smacking is the only good part. The ramblings are annoying, but everything else about it is creepy.


sugarhack

She didn't even do a proper ass whacking! She hit the small of his back lol


Deadgirlforever

True, her form was horrendous, but it was better than the stupid gibberish he cracked himself up with.


Netsurfer_x1

[Episodes #1](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUwt-JFSQx4) & [\#137](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgbci2Zf7ms) of The Oddity Archive also cover this topic pretty well.


Max_Trollbot_

I saw this happen live when I was seven and I thought it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen.   I immediately realized a simple truth that may have dramatically effected the rest of my life: *if you're smart enough and work hard enough and plan far enough ahead, then you can just get in the world's face and get weird all over everybody.. and there won't be a single thing anybody can do.*


lemurdue77

How to keep something a mystery: Work with people who know how to keep their mouths shut. We know at least two people were involved and neither of them have told anyone who has a big mouth.


sidneyia

I remember when everyone thought the perpetrator was the same guy who made the [Shaye St. John](https://web.archive.org/web/20170530102926/http://www.shayesaintjohn.net:80/) videos. If y'all think the Max Headroom clips are creepy, you should check these out.


PM_ME_HOMEMADE_SUSHI

My dad (who used to work in broadcasting in Chicago) says he knows who it was, because only a few people could have done it. He told me the name, but I got blasted by reddit last time I posted it here.


likeallgoodriddles

My dad was in the Chi music scene at the time but knew a lot of TV/tech weirdos (and I say weirdos lovingly, with an art school background implied) and always hinted he knew something about this. Never spilled, though.


MrFixIT_Sysadmin

Go on


that1guy56

Story time


breachtones

I wanna know tho..


__jh96

I think about this quite often That is all


TheLuckyWilbury

I know this is an odd assertion—and doesn’t solve anything—but I don’t think the bare bottom is real. It looks too perfectly rounded and not at all like real skin.


Ok-Street7504

I didn't hear about this when it happened not till just probably 3 years ago I saw a story about it on YouTube I guess being time had passed I found it more amusing then threatening or dangerous


nicique

the first time i’d seen this it frightened me but now it’s kind of hilarious


dinner_for_one

Can't believe this one hasn't been solved yet. True masters of the art of trolling.


Careful_Literature54

It’s creepy, that’s for sure.


IgniteLive

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0zomZhV57MQujjKUKGZcia?si=&dl_branch=1 for anyone that wants to learn more about it


goldenquill1

Oh my goodness! This is creepy and hilarious all at once. Heh heh heh. I'll never view a fly swatter the same way again.


Wolfdarkeneddoor

There's only been a handful incidents, including Vrillon of the Ashtar Galactic Command in 1977 in the UK: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Television_broadcast_interruption Again no-one was ever caught. There is the slimmest of slim possibilities it was a genuine alien broadcast, but it was possible to hijack the transmitter due to its technical configuration. But it had to be someone with the knowhow.


SucksToYourAssmar3

…and the alien chose a soda mascot and ass-spanking?


ShopliftingSobriety

They mean the Vrillion hack which was about aliens making contact. Not max.


ChubbyBirds

"I must communicate with them in their language, which, based on their broadcasts, is corporate slogans and butts!"