Kevin Mitnick Auctions Off His Laptop, Signed By Steve Wozniak

by , 1:30 PM EDT, October 3rd, 2002

Kevin Mitnick is the poster child of both kids run amok and government excess. Mr. Mitnick was one of the first "hackers" to earn the ire of the FBI by breaking into a number of computer systems, tampering with some of those systems, using cloned cell phones and the like, much of which whilst on probation after his 1989 arrest for similar acts. This was followed by being held nearly four and a half years without bond or trial, an eight month period in solitary confinement, and some of the strictest parole terms ever placed on a convicted felon.

Mr. Mitnick, who is barred from being on the Internet, or touching a computer that is connected to the Internet, is selling two laptops he used during his hacking spree in the early 1990s on eBay. Apple fans will be interested in the fact that both are signed on the bottom by Steve Wozniak, Apple's cofounder. From a Reuters report:

The U.S. Secret Service thought they had Mitnick cornered when they raided a Seattle apartment rented to a "Brian Merrill" on Oct. 28, 1994. However, they walked away with his Toshiba Satellite 4400SX instead of Mitnick, who was down the street at the time, working on his resume at Kinko's and eavesdropping on reports of the raid on his police scanner.

Mitnick wasn't so lucky on Feb. 15, 1995, when agents swooped in on his Raleigh, North Carolina, apartment and finally arrested him. He was held without bail for four and a half years. His trusty laptop at the time, a Toshiba 1960CS, is now on eBay with a high bid of $9,200.

The other laptop is also up for auction. It features a "fine layer of fingerprint dust" and red "X" marks where fingerprints were lifted, as well as a mouse still housed in an FBI evidence bag, according to the description.

The computers are signed on the bottom by Mitnick and Steve Wozniak. "You've got the whole world in your hands. -- Woz (Free Kevin!)" Wozniak wrote. That is a customized version of the phrase Wozniak and Steve Jobs used to write on blue boxes, tone generators used to make free phone calls they sold before they founded Apple Computer Inc.

There is more information in the full story, including more background on Mr. Mitnick and related events than we got into in our introduction. The Toshiba Satellite T1960CS (including a link to images of the laptop) is currently up to US$15,000 at the time of this writing, as is the Toshiba Satellite 4400SX (including a link to images of the laptop). Both have met their reserve, and both were officially listed by Mr. Mitnick's girlfriend, as he is still not allowed onto the Internet.

The Mac Observer Spin:

We don't condone Mr. Mitnick's hacking activities in any way whatsoever, but we also don't condone holding a man in prison without trial or bond for four and a half years. That was truly an embarrassing action by our government.

It's very interesting that Steve Wozniak signed the laptops. Mr. Wozniak was a supporter of Mr. Mitnick while the latter was in jail awaiting his trial, and there's little doubt that his signature will only help the price of these auctioned items.