AOL-Files Fanfare on Digital Gangster

Ten years ago I helped cofound, a website devoted to finding and exploiting holes in the America Online service. Together, Rob, BMB, and I grew AOL-Files into one of the most respected community of amateur hackers on the net.

Recently I started Googling for information about the site, to see if anything other than the archive on this site was still online. To my great surprise, the site is still talked about regularly on hacker forums.

Digital Gangster, the most notable of the lot, appears to be where a lot of the former AOL-Files crew migrated after it was taken down.

Here are a few excerpts:

yes I do, you used to hang with the aol-files crew we used to chat on rob’s irc server and talk about hax0ring the world

O0O, April 2007

O0O was a major contributor to the site and eventually one of the staff. The word “brilliant” comes to mind when I remember his work.

i edited my aim 5.1 by learning the hex offsets via tauville from aol-files

mx, July 2007

I went by the alias Tau back in those days — never heard the term tauville before, but I think he’s referring to some of the articles I wrote. Glad to help!

There was a long discussion in 2007 about an article that appeared on Wired about a hacker named Smokey, the “self-professed ringleader in the AOL hax0ring scene”. There’s a lot of discussion in the thread about AOL-Files while they try to determine the accuracy of Smokey’s claims. O0O sums it up pretty well:

The only Smokey I remember from back in the day was a coat-tail rider of some of the old AOL-Files crew. The guy was a young newb that knew less than Cam0.

There are also several threads dedicated to people posting their old AOL-Files profiles:

In March 2008, omer downloads AOL-Files from and posts a link to it:

thanks to ive been able to get a lot of documents from from 2001. most important thing is that ive recovered A LOT of the FDO documents/tokens/keywords/arguements/SOFTWARE (which is already on my site ) and including the People’s list, (which im sure a lot of you readers can find your names/handles on there.) I know a lot of you will look at it and be like what the fuck? Thats okay because i think i did an okay job with at least in some perspective bringing it back to life. and i made it for fun so <^> . Enjoy!

Later in the thread there’s some discussion about when launched in relation to O0O sets the record straight again:

In April `99, Moo/Brat and other ex-CLs filed their Department of Labor complaint asking the US GOVT to rule that CLs should be paid a wage, that they weren’t really volunteers, but workers in a sweat shop. I never really agreed with them and their interpretation of the law, but went with it cause it gave AOL bad press. This got Observers alot of mainstream media attention, etc. It was also Kelly’s shining moment in the spotlight, her 15 minutes of fame. Over the next year, Kelly took over more control of Observers, by the end of the year she owned the domain, paid for the webhosting and all the original staff had left. She brought in her own lapdogs and slowly ran the website into the ground with overt censoreship of the forums, not letting anyone ever criticize here or exercise an opinion opposite of hers. Around that time aol-files sprung up and all the real deal hax0rs moved over to those forums and eventually their IRC.


The Obs forums died once Kelly started censoring them in late `99. Newriot wasn’t even around until late `99 if I remember correctly. That website was pretty fuckin stupid and the forums there were filled with script kiddies who thought they were badass cause someone taught them one of the 6 methods to jack an AIM. AOL-Files was the best website/forums ever regarding AOL shit.

Newriot…wow… memories.


Good times while it lasted, AOL-Files was way better though, definately the best of all sites and the best msg board for the scene.

In June 2007, a2 posts another link to the version of AOL People, which people nostalgically browse through and post their old profiles.

i forgot who was in charge of that but i think you just had to email the template filled out to like

Rather than create a form that let people post their information, I had everyone email it to me and then I manually went formatted them and created pages for everyone. What a major pain in the ass.

From March 2009:

aol-files is still up if you guys didn’t know matt kept most of the archive up and the members and the database of aliases oh don’t we miss them days

And in October 2008, after I post the AOL-Files archive on this blog, people discover more profiles. The common response when people see their old profiles is “wow, I can’t believe I wrote this”. I wholeheartedly agree.

Good times.

2 thoughts on “AOL-Files Fanfare on Digital Gangster

  1. I founded obs with Marilyn and Tim.

    Severed all my ties with the scene shortly after I transferred control of the domain to Kelly.

    Was feeling nostalgic and Googled my former website, and I stumbled upon this post.


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