An intangible program in a computer which consists of a series of accessible electrical and/or magnetic impulses.
Fifty years ago today the first warrant to search a computer was issued through the San Jose-Milpitas district of the Santa Clara County Court through an affidavit made by an Oakland Police Department Sergeant attached to the fraud detail. There was probable and reasonable cause to believe that evidence related to felony theft of trade secrets were contained on a data storage device. The warrant commanded the search of personal property in the form of:
- Key Punch Computer Cards, punched with a proprietary remote plotting program
- Computer Printout sheets of a proprietary remote plotting program
- Computer memory bank and other data storage devices magnetically imprinted with the proprietary computer program.
The warrant reads that on February 4th, 1971 the President of a Information Systems company in Oakland, CA discovered a set of punch cards connected to a computer terminal. The punch cards contained a program that allowed for remote plotting and was deemed a confidential trade secret. The program was valued at $15,000.
With the assistance of a special agent from the Pacific Telephone Corporation, telephone records linked a call from a number leased to a computer in Palo Alto. A technician at the Palo Alto location, an expert at operating a UNIVAC 1108 computer, reported that the computer printed the confidential program during the time of the call.
It was later determined that a former employee of the company that owned the propriety program had the access code and site number. The warrant specifies that the program was potentially in various forms including punch card form, print-out form, and as written, "an intangible form as a program in a computer which consists of a series of accessible electrical and/or magnetic impulses". Also mentioned in the warrant is that these impulses can be disclosed only through interrogation of a computer and any data storage device.
Thus the first warrant to search a computer storage device was created. Items seized during the search included tapes and a directory of all files on Fastrand. Fastrand was a magnetic drum mass storage system built by Sperry Rand Corporation for UNIVAC systems.
|FASTRAND magnetic drum storage|
The search ultimately led to a conviction of theft of trade secrets and a new era of digital forensics.
- Link to warrant
- WHAT HAPPENED TODAY, FEBRUARY 19TH
- OPERATIONAL GUIDE TO WHITE COLLAR CRIME ENFORCEMENTA Report of the National Center on White-Collar Crime, THE INVESTIGATION OF COMPUTER CRIME