Before TV as we know it existed, entertainment didn’t come in a USB stick, a modem, or a cable box. It went through the air. Broadcast waves intercepted by antenna were the standard of television for decades.
Households across the world, not just in America, were used to blocking the signals from radio towers to watch their favorite programs and morning to evening news segments.
In 1987, near the end of the long and very much still alive Cold War era, an incident occurred in Chicago. Two television stations were hacked live on air to broadcast the bizarre antics of a masked man wearing the rubbery visage of the cult TV character Max Headroom.
The pirated broadcast was mostly written off as an unsettling joke in poor taste. It was hard to look at and harder to explain.
To this day, the culprits still have not been caught. The incident sent reverberations through the world. Most people saw it as a harmless prank in questionable taste, a parody of the then-modern media range that they were interrupting.
Others saw it as a breach of national security, and the fact that it was never resolved remains a contentious point to this day.
10 /10 The Mask Of The Max
Max Headroom was a strange combination of ideas. He was pitched as an Artificial Intelligence character, or the “first computer-generated TV personality,” back in 1985.
Instead, it wasn’t CGI, an actor in prosthetics representing the news anchor of a dystopian future 20 minutes ahead.
Creative video editing makes it seem like he was glitching out and encountering errors such as stuttered speech and extremely rapid movements.
9 /10 The Double Channel Hijack
Two channels were hijacked within a short time of one another. During a sports segment with anchor Dan Roan during a report of the Chicago Bears game, the first was WGN-TV.
The second was on WTTW during an episode of Dr. Who. Although both channels were local to Chicago, they were subsidiaries of more extensive television networks. WTTW was an affiliate of PBS, the largest broadcaster in America.