Elk Cloner

What Does Elk Cloner Mean?

Elk Cloner is a boot sector virus and one of the earliest microcomputer viruses. It fiercely invades a computer’s hardware, but it also has the ability to copy itself onto other computers. As soon as a computer boots from a floppy disk carrying the virus, the virus copies itself into the computer’s memory. Later on, when another clean disk is inserted into the computer, the Elk Cloner virus automatically copies itself onto the clean disk, resulting in a network-like infection.


The Elk Cloner virus was developed in 1982 by Rich Skrenta who was only 15 years old. He used it to attack millions of Apple II systems.

Techopedia Explains Elk Cloner

In 1982, 15-year-old high school student Rich Skrenta developed the Elk Cloner virus. Skrenta already had a reputation for developing computer tricks among his friends at a time before the word “virus” had even been conceived. While sharing computer games and software with his friends, Skrenta would change the floppy disks’ properties, forcing the users’ computers to shut down or display cruel messages on the screen. His friends soon became very cautious about any disks coming from Skrenta, which is how he came to develop the self-copying aspect of the virus. During his winter school vacation, Skrenta formulated a technique to alter floppy disks without actually touching them. His newly conceived idea was later called a boot sector virus.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…