July 26, 1989
A grand jury in Syracuse, N.Y., indicts a 24-year-old Cornell University graduate student for creating a computer virus that cripples the precursor of today’s Internet.
Robert Tappan Morris Jr. is the first person prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, for deploying a virus that shut down 6,000 computers connected by networks at universities, research centers and military installations, The New York Times notes. The Times reports that according to two of Morris’s college friends, the virus “multiplied wildly out of control” because of a programming error.
He is later fined $10,000 and sentenced to three-years’ probation and community service.