Prankster's 1st Computer Virus Turns 25
'Dumb little practical joke' led to $38 billion security industry
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2007 5:56 PM CDT
Anti-Virus software sold as computers are attacked.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – A prankster who wrote the first computer virus 25 years ago says only, “It was some dumb little practical joke.” Yet Richard Skrenta’s desire to infiltrate other Apple II’s with a poem (“It will get on all your disks; it will infiltrate your chips”) marked the beginning of a worldwide virus craze that spawned a $38 billion security industry and 150 to 175 new pieces of malware every day.

Skrenta’s history-making “Elk Cloner” was also the world’s first “boot sector” virus, infecting computers’ memory the moment they start up, the AP reports. Yet Skrenta had nothing to do with the first PC virus, which was invented by 2 brothers in Pakistan in 1986. Skrenta, who has launched his own websites, describes his place in viral history as “an odd placeholder for (all that) I've done."