RIP Bill (billsf) Squire

Sad news… I got word today that Bill Squire has passed away.ร‚ย The global hacker community lost a legend.ร‚ย In various hackerspaces avant-la-lettre, Bill generously shared his deep knowledge of phones, pranks, electronics and technology in general. In the very early nineties, Bill was the phone phreak and electronics wizard without whom our magazine Hack-Tic would never have been as funny, as rebellious or as well-known.

63 thoughts on “RIP Bill (billsf) Squire”

  1. Any reason or cause of death? Man, this sucks… I’ve been trying to reach him for almost a month. Wanted to interview him for my upcoming book I’m writing. I just returned from Germany a few days ago. Explains why I was unable to reach him.

  2. Sad to hear of the loss of another one of our fellow brethren. Rest in peace Bill.

  3. From all of us in the old Cypherpunks and phone phreaking community (from Phiber Optic on down), who so happened to congregate at our house last night when we heard the news, THANK YOU BillSF for your advice and assistance over the years.

    You were a pioneer in the field.

    Our community is diminished,
    –Lucky Green

  4. To my brother, you will be missed. I am so glad he had a community of friends who “got” who he was. He was the most intelligent person I knew. He was loved by his family. He has now found peace.

  5. My big brother Bill IS truly a genius!!! I love you, Bill! I love your quirkiness, your silly giggle (I can still hear it in my head) and your extraordinary ideas. I will miss your brainy chitter-chatter about techno-stuff I had no clue about, but most of all, I will miss your sweet soul as you reflected in silence about what is most important to you – family and friends.

  6. Paula,

    “I love your quirkiness, your silly giggle (I can still hear it in my head) and your extraordinary ideas.”

    Thanks for mentioning that. I can still hear it in my head, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    — noise.

  7. Bill… you inspired me when I was just a kid. The beauty of the phone systems you uncovered. Your electronic wizardry.

    I remember the help you gave to a certain fledgling ISP to reboot servers via the voicemail system. And celebrating Sinterklaas together at PH kade.

    Thank you for showing me what hacker spirit is, your creativity and your patience.

    Rest in piece, my friend.


  8. Bill, a true friend since I was 16. We had alot of fun together, went on holidays together and saw each other every week at least once. Whenever I had a question, he knew the answer.
    Rest in peace, and hopefully your name will live on.

  9. Dear Ron & Paula,

    On behalf of wosgroup we send our condoleances for our friend and colleague Bill. We were trying to locate any family member. Could you please contact me at ?

    Kind regards,
    ET Stone.

  10. Oorlof mijn arme schapen
    Die zijt in groten nood
    Uw herder zal niet slapen
    Al zijt gij nu verstrooid!

    Bill’s last published article started with this as he liked this part of the Dutch Anthem. Sheep!

    If you haven’t yet, get yourself a copy of the 2600 Hacker Odyssey book.

    Thanks for everything Bill! You’ll be missed.

  11. This is truly stunning news to me. I remember Bill from when I first met him in the mid-80’s, when he lived in the San Francisco/Bay Area. The “Zoo House” in SSF. The BART bust in 1987. The Mac-based “Visual Synthesizer” goggles he made for me. The Hacktic days when he moved to Amsterdam. Many interesting and fun adventures in phreaking and hacking. Bill was somewhat “eccentric,” but had a real genius for hardware hacking. His work on the Hacktic “demon dialer” and the Stanton digital scratch invention were examples of this. I will miss him.

    Does anyone here know of what or how he died? Do his parents know? What was going on with him in the last months before his passing–did he have health problems, or what?

  12. This is Bill’s youngest brother. We have no information on Bill. We are trying to contact the police without success. I have emailed ET Stone who left a comment on this site earlier and hope to hear from him. Any help we can receive would be appreciated. My email is and my cell is 951-283-7536. I live in California.

    Thank you

  13. My Dear Brother Bill (one year older than I chronologically, but by eons intellectually),

    We wanted you to be with us for at least another 30 years, but you’re off on a new adventure, called home too soon, as we thought you might be. We love you and will miss you terribly. You were creative, innovative, and you had a great heart. You made us smile. You traveled from Amsterdam to California for family reunions. Thank you. I, too, will miss the conversations; I never knew what you were going to say next, but you made me think. Growing up with you was fun. I remember you at age ten stringing a phone line atop the fences to your friend two blocks away. You made spook houses spookier. Recently, during my darkest hour, you made me smile again, telling me about my divorce: “It happens.” Bill Squire wisdom. Now, you are gone, and I cry. But the memories remain. And I will see you again, on the other side, and I am sure we will embrace. Tot ziens. I love you, Bill. Your brother, Scott

  14. Hi Ron, I got your email and will give you a call soon as you all are awake on the West Coast.

    Bill was not only a colleague he was a friend. As I read all the wonderful comments and nice stories; I’m happy to hear how similar they all are. Bill didn’t change who he was to fit in with anyone or anything, he kindly allowed us to fit into his world.;-) I don’t cry for his passing, but gladly celebrate his life because he lived and blessed many with his presence and his unique way of being.

    The body is but a vessel to house the soul while we navigate through this thing called life…when its time to return the vessel the spirit lives on and his presence will be forever felt. I will miss you my dear friend and the many talks like these we’ve had on many occasions. Thank you for being you and thank you for the memories.


  15. I first meet Bill on a loop line in Sunnyvale California when he was 17. We quickly became teenage best friends sharing hacks and information about technology and our work in Silicone Valley. Together we built a multitude of telephone signaling, radio transmitting, and audio devices sharing what we learned. Bill was a true genius but a bit eccentric and often rebelliousness. His untimely death is a tragic loss.

  16. This is a sad loss. I didn’t meet Bill that often, since I don’t live nearby, but every time I did it was interesting. I will miss his presence in the world.

  17. Didnร‚ยดt saw that one coming. ๐Ÿ™ You gave me a lot of insides at Sas place when I made the switch to Linux, glad I was able to learn parts of it from you.

    Have a nice journey Bill, you will be missed.

    My condolences to the Family and many Friends


  18. The world lost a great mind,
    and an awesome personality.

    I met him years ago through a mutual friend,
    but we ran into each other a few times after that;
    always an inspiration.

    Hack In Peace!

  19. We have finally made contact with the US Consulate. They have confirmed that Bill passed away due to natural causes.
    My brother Mike and I will be flying into Amsterdam on Sunday. We will be meeting with the police on Monday and arranging for Bill’s body to be taken home to his parents in Murrieta California (unless we find a will that states otherwise).
    We hope to meet with some of you, his friends. We hope to have a memorial for Bill while we are in Amsterdam. I will try to keep this site updated. Feel free to email me:
    Thank you for the comments and the help in this tough time.

  20. I met Bill at Ars Electronica where I was working on a collaborative streaming media radio station and Bill wandered up from the Heart tent and quietly solved a few unsolvable networking problems in between those mad giggles of his.

    When Snow and I visited the HfH hangout a few years later he displayed traits that we all treasure: generosity, creative thinking, patience with explanations, openness to explore untried combinations of technology, a wicked sense of humour and above all a jolly otherworldly confidence that everything somehow works out.

    I’ve seen those traits in a lot of the people from those days, and this makes me feel reassured that a tiny bit of Bill must exist in them.

    . o O (Thanks for all your help Bill – good journey.)


  21. We are in Amsterdam. We have meet with the police.
    The official report lists the cause of death as gastrointestinal bleeding.
    We have meet with the funeral home and are in the process of having him
    returned to California for burial near our parents.
    Thank you for all the nice comments.
    Ron Squire

  22. May the force be with you!

    If there is another side. The one and only person who is truly able to establish first contact back to us has arrived…

    Peace out, Bill!

  23. Just spent most of the afternoon with Ron and Michael Squire in Bill’s apartment, trying to make some very first preliminary sense of his affairs. They did indeed tell me the cause of death was intestinal bleeding. ( I’ve known an otherwise healthy person who died from this thinking he just had some bad cramps. ) Bill’s place was messy but looked as if Bill had been working on technology-related things until right before he died.

    As Bill’s body is going to the US, I suggest we have a ceremony here in the Netherlands for those that would like to get together and remember him here. I’m thinking not as formal as a funeral and not as informal as a bunch of friends in cafe. Do you all think this is indeed a good idea? I was tentatively thinking of Saturday the 22nd of this month. And if many of you think this is a good idea: who’d like to say a few words and/or help put this together. I definitely would like to say something also.

  24. I know bill from his many visits here in maarssen and a new years party at rop’s place. Although we usually ended up in a fight over operating systems he always was a pleasant company and it won’t be easy to forget him. rest in peace.

    rop: I definitily will be there if you arrange something.

  25. Rop,

    I think its a excellent idea, as Sas and I was talking about the same thing. I will meet Ron & Michael tomorrow before Ron leaves. And the work he was working was more than likely for BelCash, that he is a co-founder in he and I was headed back to Ethiopia together and that was our last conversation and the last day I saw him at the office. 22nd sounds good to me…

  26. Ron & Mike are facing an enormous task of arranging everything. You (Ron, Mike) have my number if you need any help.
    Saturday 22nd sounds good Rop. Will be there. Might need to be recorded and/or webcasted for family (parents).

  27. I would most certainly wish to be present at any proposed memorial gathering. I might be bringing Bas and Nils with me. I’m fairly sure they will wish to pay their respects to the memory of their close friend.

  28. Bill, you taught me microwaving coffee isn’t as bad as it looks, and I saw you once going through a still wet brick wall (put there by a naughty landlord), which was quite an eye opener.

    My respect to you.

  29. I was Bill’s roomate at the “Zoo” house in the late 80’s. He was an amazingly gifted intellect, as well as an honest and ethical person. We had lots of fun with LED’s and other “trip toys”. Bill could manipulate, build, tweak, and design the most interesting and amazing electronic devices. I join family and friends in celebrating Bill’s life from my corner of the world here in Northern California. Cheers!

    So long Bill

  30. I was 18 when I first met Bill in the late 80’s in California and found him easy to relate to and fun to talk with, as if I had known him before. He was great at explaining in simple terms how technology works. I remember picking out components at the electronics stores and spending all night building interesting and useful gadgets of his design. He was a genius engineer and good friend. I am sorry for his loss as well as for our own. I feel my world has become smaller. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten. May you live forever in our hearts and minds Bill.

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