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mous Melissa virus, in the early 1990s,
two years before they started to appear,
and he predicted mobile-phone viruses
several years before the rst one struck.
Hyppönen doesn't attribute his skill at
tackling malware to video game--honed
strategies per se, but rather to the funda-
mental knowledge of computers that he
developed in his teenage gaming years.
Fr ustrated by how long games took to load
on his Commodore 64, he taught himself
assembly language so he could write code
that would speed up the process. By 14 he
was already making money from his pro-
grams. "I was selling them to oppy mag-
azines, magazines published on oppy
disks," he says.
The skills he picked up during this pe-
riod would serve him well. He joined
F-Secure (which at the time was called
Data Fellows) in 1991, and a year later, he
got his rst taste of decoding a vir us. Back
then, viruses were a relatively new phe-
nomenon, and resources for dealing with
them were sparse. "I couldn't run the virus
on a machine to see what it did because we
couldn't spare one. They were too expen-
sive." Instead, he had to print out nearly 40
pages of code and meticulously go through
it line by line, trying to gure out what the
program did. The process took about three
days---long enough to get him hooked.
Today, of course, computers are cheap,
so running vir uses isn't a problem. But
Hyppönen still uses his reverse-engineer-
ing skill in trying to predict new threats.
Virus writers are no longer interested in
notoriety, he says; these days they are after
money. He believes virus writers are now
teaming up with spammers and designing
vir uses that try to evade detection.
So after mobile phones, what could
possibly be the next target? Skype, accord-
ing to Hyppönen. The peer-to-peer Inter-
net phone ser vice is an ideal mark for
malware writers because it is designed to
While he waits to begin his next battle
with vir us writers, Hyppönen directs his
passion for reverse engineering toward
rebuilding and restoring old pinball ma-
chines and arcade games. It is not just
about reclaiming part of his youth, he says.
It is also about preserving a golden era in
computer history. "If no one else saves
them, they will disappear."
-40% 0 40% 80%
years ago in Technology Review
Above the economic horizon a new industry, the manufacture of plastics, is
climbing into prominence. Dr. Wilson Compton, Executive Secretary of the Na-
tional Lumber Manufacturers Association, declares that the aggregate value of
plastic products in the United States is already equivalent to one-tenth that of the
products of the lumber and wood-working industries combined, and the editors
of Plastics assert that the volume of the plastics business has practically doubled
every year, bringing its total this year up to one-quarter of a billion dollars.
What are plastics and how are they used? The material of which phono-
graph records are made is a commonly known product that falls into the plastic
classi cation and, of course, there is celluloid. The rst is known chemically as
a shellac base plastic and the second as a cellulose nitrate plastic, but both of
these are old stories. It is the discovery and spectacular development of the phe-
nol formaldehyde resins such as Bakelite that has created an industry that ap-
proaches the magnitude of the lumber business and bids fair to challenge the
supremacy of many others.
One large rm, for example, is o ering for the rst time "Beetle" ware, a
type of tableware that is thin, light, and colorful, that will not scratch or chip or
break under ordinary usage. Surely a boon to hotels and housewives!
The Plastic Age
(October 1930, p. 25)
Biotech patenting appears to be on
the decline. In 2004, the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office issued only
3,998 patents that contained the
phrase "nucleic acid" in their invention-
description sections---or just 22 per
1,000 patents---down from a high of
4,990 in 1999. The number of patents
containing the word "pharmaceutical"
also fell during this period.
Number of patents
containing each keyword
per 1,000 patents issued
SOURCE: FINNEGAN, HENDERSON, FARABOW, GARRETT, AND DUNNER
1985 1990 1995 2000
Biotechnology terms appearing
in patent applications
Change in frequency of
Number of patent applications per thousand that
include the listed term in the invention description
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