Joybubbles – A Phone Phreaking Legend Passes

Joybubbles, known by many as the grandfather of phone phreaking died suddenly of a heart attack on August 8, 2007. Born blind to the name Josef Carl Engressia, Jr. he was gifted with perfect pitch and could whistle a perfect 2600 Hertz, giving him the unique ability to place free long-distance calls simply by whistling into the phone. Other phreakers needed a Blue Box or Captain Crunch Whistle to to do this.

It was, in fact, Joybubbles that first discovered the giveaway Captain Crunch cerial whistle could be modified to generate 2600 Hertz and taught John T. Draper, a phreaker who would later go by the nickname Capn’ Crunch about it.

Joybubbles was reported to have an IQ of 172 and only occasionally used his talents to cheat the phone company. Instead, he preferred to educate others in the style of Mr. Rogers with his weekly telephone story line called “Stories and Stuff.” The numbers were +1 206-FEELING (+1 206 333-5464), +1 612-813-1212, and +1 773-572-3109. Later, he ran a call in show called the “Zzzzyzzerrific Funline,” which, due to all the “Z’s”, had the honor of holding the last entry in the entire phone book.

UPDATE: The history of Phone Phreaking blog points out that I did not provide a source for the above information regarding cause of death. This is correct, and I apologize for the oversight. In an effort to put to rest any conjecture, they have provided the actual death certificate, which lists the immediate cause of death as “Natural causes” along with “congestive heart failure” as a contributing condition.

One thought on “Joybubbles – A Phone Phreaking Legend Passes

  1. The boy from Milledgeville, Tennessee.

    I remember the article that broke phreaking to the public when it appeared in Esquire in the early 1970s.

    Didn’t The Woz got his start selling black and blue boxes.

    Takes me back to the mechanical central office switchers.

    Those were the days.

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