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A demon dialer was a specific type of hardware used in the 1980s and 1990s that allowed a telephone-connected device to repeatedly call a telephone number. This was often done to access crowded modem pools. Other uses involved winning radio call-in contests and annoying various telephone respondents. The demon dialer could also be used to call a long sequence of telephone numbers consecutively.
The demon dialer device and technique was popularized by a 1983 movie called “War Games” starring a young Matthew Broderick. This movie shows the demon dialer in use as part of an early hacking technique eventually called “phreaking.”
After the days of dial-up, demon dialers largely became obsolete. New hardware and software products called “war dialers” became effective in targeting different kinds of telephone-connected systems for the purposes of hacking. “Phreakers” used war dialers and other tools to avoid long-distance charges, or to access internal networks through a telephone line. Eventually, as the use of telephone land lines for internet transmission was phased out, phreaking and the use of tools like war dialers became less effective.