Since the appearance of computer viruses in 1984 and as they are conceived today, many myths and legends have arisen about them. This situation worsened with the advent and boom of the Internet . Here is a summary of the true history of viruses that infect computer files and systems.

1939-1949 The Precursors

Von Neumann with a first-generation computer, based on radio tubes, coils and relays. In 1939, the famous mathematical scientist John Louis Von Neumann , of Hungarian origin, wrote an article, published in a scientific journal in New York, exposing his ” Theory and organization of complex automata “, where he demonstrated the possibility of developing small programs that could take control of others, of similar structure.
It is worth mentioning that Von Neumann, in 1944 contributed directly to John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert , advising them in the manufacture of the ENIAC , one of the First Generation computers, who also built the famous UNIVAC in 1950.

John Louis von Neumann (1903-1957)

In 1949, in the laboratories of the Bell Computer, a subsidiary of AT&T , 3 young programmers: Robert Thomas Morris , Douglas McIlory and Victor Vysottsky , created a game called CoreWar for entertainment purposes , inspired by the theory of John Von Neumann. , written and published in 1939.

Robert Thomas Morris was the father of Robert Tappan Morris , who in 1988 introduced a virus to ArpaNet , the forerunner of the Internet .

Put into practice, the CoreWar containers ran programs that gradually decreased the memory of the computer and the winner was the one who finally managed to eliminate them completely. This game was the subject of competitions in important research centers such as Xerox in California and the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MIT), among others.

However, for many years CoreWar was kept anonymous, because in those years computing was handled by a small elite of intellectuals.

Despite many years in hiding, there are reports about the Creeper virus , created in 1972 by Robert Thomas Morris , which attacked the famous IBM 360, periodically issuing on the screen the message: “I’m a creeper … catch me if you can! ” (I’m a creeper, grab me if you can). To eliminate this problem, the first antivirus program called Reaper (reaper) was created, since at that time the concept of antivirus software was unknown.

In 1980 the ArpaNet network of the Ministry of Defense of the United States of America , the forerunner of the Internet, issued strange messages that appeared and disappeared randomly, likewise some executable codes of the used programs suffered a mutation. The highly skilled Pentagon technicians took 3 long days to develop the corresponding antivirus program.