Name of Interview: Dr. Ripco
Date Interviewed: January 23, 2004
DV Tapes Filled: 2 Hours
Location: Chicago, IL

ripcobbs.txt (73K) Search Warrant Documents from the Ripco BBS Seizure (Transcribed) (1990)
cud127.txt (22K) Full overview of the events of the Ripco BBS Seizure, by Dr. Ripco (1990)
sundevil.txt (101K) KPFA/EPIC Overview of the Operation Sundevil Case (July, 1990)
ripco_case_closed.txt (6.8K) "Operation Sundevil" is finally over for Dr. Ripco, from Computer Underground Digest (October, 1994)
sundevil-info.txt (2.9K) Operation Sundevil, by The Prodigy (January 5, 1993)
ripco.htm (14K) The Seizure of the Ripco BBS, by Full Disclosure (1991)

By Friday morning, I was already in an excellent mood. I'd arrived in Chicago the previous evening and stayed over at Jim Leonard's house. Also known as Trixter of Hornet, Jim and I share very similar outlooks on computer history (although we focus on somewhat different aspects of it) and our conversations (always online) have been spectacular. From a distance, we seem to be the same person in terms of mindset, and so it was excellent to finally meet face to face and spend a few hours talking. An absolutely great time.

When I first told people I'd be travelling throughout the midwest in January, everyone warned I'd be trapped in some sort of ice floe somewhere, unable to get my rental car out and basically perishing clutching my camera. I'm not ruining the suspense to say that this didn't happen, but it did start snowing on this morning, and I thought all the predictions might come true.

Dr. Ripco (Bruce Esquibel) was one of the first people who I contacted when I started pre-production on the documentary and was one of the first to agree to be interviewed. He also told me he could likely scare up the original Apple II that the Ripco BBS was running on in 1983 until it was seized by the FBI in 1990. I thought it would make for really nice to have someone being interviewed with the BBS he's being interviewed about next to him.

In person, Bruce turned out to be older than I thought; I have no idea, since he'd run his BBS from 1983 and onward, and mentioned living in both Texas and Illinois, that it didn't occur to me he might be older than I was, but that may just be because he sounds younger on the phone. A lot of this is his energy and forthrightness in talking, which comes across very nicely in the interview. One thing that has worked out well with the documentary is that a lot of the folks who've volunteered turn out to be engaging and friendly in the interviews, dismantling years of portrayal of computer people as freaks, jerks and cats being herded by big business to get anything done.

Bruce and I talked about running Ripco, going through Operation Sundevil, starting an ISP (Ripco became reborn as an ISP in the 1990s) and other opinions on computers and BBS people. It was a solid time, and I headed out into the snow happy that my long Midwest haul had gotten off to such a great start.