The Early History of Computer Viruses

Sometime around 1962, researchers at Bell Labs—Victor Vyssotsky, Douglas McIlroy, and Robert Morris, Sr.—came up with a computer game they called Darwin. In this game, the players had to write computer programs that fought for domination of a designated memory region. As described in a magazine article in 1972, the object of the game was survival; the programs (“organisms”) had the ability to “kill” each other, and could create copies of themselves [1]. This article is the earliest published resource that I have witnessed to use the term virus in the context of self-replicating software. Specifically, the text mentions that one of the players “invented a virus—an unkillable organism” that was able to win ...

Get Malware: Fighting Malicious Code now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.