On a Sunday evening in Chicago, 30 years ago, television viewers were settling down to watch their favorite programs.
On Channel 9, the "Nine O'Clock News" was showing a sports-round up. Local sportscaster Dan Roan was covering the highlights of an American football match, a victory for the Chicago Bears over the Detroit Lions.
Suddenly, at 9:14pm, the program disappeared from the screen, replaced by darkness. After several seconds, viewers were greeted by a terrifying figure wearing a rubber mask of TV character Max Headroom and sunglasses.
After bobbing around the screen on a striped background, the character was eventually cut off when TV crew finally flipped a frequency switch.
When the camera returned to a dumbfounded Dan Roan, he told viewers, "If you're wondering what's happened, so am I."
Later that evening, Max struck again: this time on Channel 11. At 11.15pm he interrupted an episode of Dr. Who with a garbled message, then pulled down his trousers and turned to his accomplice, who began spanking him on the bottom with a fly swatter.
"I would like to inform anybody involved in this kind of thing, that there's a maximum penalty of $100,000, one year in jail, or both," FCC spokesman Phil Bradford said.
"There are some who may view this as comical," Andy Yocom, a spokesman for WTTW, the owner of Channel 11, said.
"But it is a very serious matter because illegal interference of a broadcast signal is a violation of federal law."
It is believed that the hacker used a dish antenna, placed at a high location, to interrupt the television signal between the studios and their downtown transmitters. There is a theory that the culprit was a disgruntled ex-employee of one of the television stations, but to this day, the person's identity remains a mystery.