A long time ago (1982), in a galaxy not so far, far away, Rich Skrenta, then a clever 9th grader, invented what may have been the first computer virus—Elk Cloner. It was, by current standards, a benign virus that Skrenta installed on his school computer, so that every time one of his fellow students copied a floppy disk, some doggerel from Skrenta appeared on their screens.
Despite his mischievous nature, or perhaps because of it, Skrenta went on to become a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, founding NewHoo and Topix.net. He recently stepped down as CEO of Topix following the sale of 75% of the venture to three newspaper companies for about $60 million. (Read more computer virus stories.)