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Going Viral

On January 30, 1982, a Computer virus called Elk Cloner was released “into the wild”—that is, it spread outside of the computer system on which it was written—becoming the first virus to start spreading to other computers on its own. The program, which targeted Apple II computers and spread to other computers via floppy disk, was coded by then-high school student Richard Skrenta, whose primary motivation was to annoy his friends.

Although the virus did cause some incidental damage, its main function was to display the following poetic message every 50th time the infected machine started:

Writing Prompt: You have (or a character has) created a computer virus that is capable of spreading to every computer, tablet or smartphone in the world. It takes over the device’s screen and displays something else instead—a message, an image, an animation, etc. What does it display, and why?

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