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In 1971, Bob Thomas of Bolt, Beranek and Newman Technologies, now BBN, wrote an experimental self-replicating program titled Creeper, to demonstrate a mobile application. Even though the term computer virus did not exist in that decade, Creeper was the first computer virus.
It used the ARPANET to infect the Digital Equipment Corporation’s PDP-10, a mainframe computer that was the precursor to the Internet, running the TENEX operating system. The Creeper worm copied itself to the remote system.
Although the Creeper seldom replicated itself, it did start to print a file and then stop. It would find another TENEX system, open a connection, pick itself up, and transfer it to the other machine, each time displaying the message, “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!” It jumped from one machine to another trying to remove itself from the previous machine. Therefore, it never installed itself on targets, but worked its way around a network.
To delete the Creeper worm, programmers created The Reaper Program. This program ran on workstations and servers, terminating sessions that appeared hung, or idle. The Reaper Program uses system measurements to determine how long a connection is idle. Hung connections are connections active for more than five hours, whether idle or not.
The Reaper Program kills all programs associate with those processes, and logs the user off the computer.
Other computer virus firsts:
Elk Cloner – first computer virus to appear in the wild
*(c) Brain – first PC virus in the wild (a boot sector virus)
*In 1986, the Farooq Alvi Brothers, supposedly created the (c) Brain virus to prevent others from pirating their software.