DEF CON was founded in 1992 by Jeff Moss as a farewell party for his friend and fellow cracker[who?]. The party was planned for Las Vegas a few days before his friend was to leave the United States, because his father had accepted employment out of the country. However, his friend's father left early, taking his friend along, so Jeff was left alone with the entire party planned. Jeff decided to invite all his cracker friends to go to Las Vegas with him and have the party with them instead. Cracker friends from far and wide got together and laid the foundation for DEF CON, with roughly 100 people in attendance. The term DEF CON comes from the movie WarGames, referencing the U.S. Armed Forces defense readiness condition (DEFCON). In the movie, Las Vegas was selected as a nuclear target, and since the event was being hosted in Las Vegas, it occurred to Jeff Moss to name the convention DEFCON. However, to a lesser extent, CON also stands for convention and DEF is taken from the letters on the number 3 on a telephone keypad, a reference to phone phreakers. DEF CON was planned to be a one-time event, a party for his friend, but he kept getting e-mail from people encouraging him to host again the next year. After a while, he was convinced to host the event again, and the attendance nearly doubled the second year.
A semi-fictionalized account of DefCon II, "Cyber Christ Meets Lady Luck" written by Winn Schwartau demonstrates some of the early DefCon culture.