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When Harlie Was One
9. When HARLIE Was One by David Gerrold (1972)
The first fictional computer virus was written by an errant, intelligent, eponymous computer that wanted to gather information about its creator for blackmail purposes. Although the propagation method described in When HARLIE Was One was unusual, it was apt for a time before the internet took off:
"You have a computer with an auto-dial phone link. You put the VIRUS program in it and it starts dialling phone numbers at random until it connects to another computer with an auto-dial. The VIRUS program then injects itself into the new computer."
Photo credit: I09
The Shockwave Rider
10. The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (1975)
If HARLIE lived in a world without computer networking, The Shockwave Rider saw the network as the most important part of new technology and one that could massively affect human society — and thus qualifies as a genuinely visionary pre-internet SF novel.
In the novel, worms and counter-worms are sent into the network to do battle by proxy on behalf of their writers; this often involves deception and identity theft. The nature of online identity, the role of online groups in shaping society, and the symbiosis between human and networks are all themes that bear examination more than 30 years on.
Photo credit: Cybermage
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