Talk:Hacker (term)/Archive 3

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Interesting information on Hackers. I think you should add Robert Schifreen to your categories and more importantly his new book 'Defeating the Hacker' (John Wiley). Readers can read all about the author and sample chapters of his new book at During the 1980s Robert was an active computer hacker. He became the first person in the world to be tried by a jury in connection with computer hacking. He was ultimately acquitted on all charges, which resulted in a change in the law. He is now the classic 'poacher turned gamekeeper', writing and speaking on IT Security at seminars and conferences around the world (He is Chairman on the Hacker's Panel at this years InfoSec). He also appears on radio and TV as an expert spokesman. His recently published book, 'Defeating the Hacker' is a must for everyone concerned about computer security, whether at home or at work. 10:21, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Major Talk: page re-edit

(UTC) I've taken the liberty of trimming out some of the older discussion, save when more recent discussion on the theme continues, and the comments remain relevant, and reorganized much of it. I intend to continue doing so, to trim this down to a managable sized discussion. Please be sure to date all comments added in the next few weeks to prevent accidental trimming. (It's a good habit, anyway.) --abb3w 31 Jul 2005

Proper Use of Hacker

Undated Early Discussion

I've got huge problems with this page. It's just the whole seperation of hackers/cracker is just plain wrong. It's good to explain the arguement exists but don't try seperating hacker computer experts from hacker criminals. It's just not how it really is. The hacker subculture that was in it's prime in the late 80s early 90s was filled with people that many of you may call crackers or criminal hackers, but many of them (definitely not all) where also experts at what they were doing. You shouldn't try seperating this. Some people of any type do good or bad things. A hacker is someone with a love of technology that pushes it to the limit. Whether it's illegal or not has nothing to do with whether they are hacker. As for the term cracker, explain the debate and drop it. Within the hacker subculture (semi-criminal, if you will) even today the word cracker is used, but only to describe those people cracking software. You hack computers, you crack software. Anyway, that's my two cents.

I don't know how old this comment is, but that is pretty much always been my understanding. A Hacker was anyone who hacked (or mucked around) with computers and software to figure out how they worked. It did not matter what they did with that knowledge afterwards. A Cracker was a type of hacker that broke copy protection on software, such as Cracks and KeyGens. I grew up during the 80s/90s BBS era, and that is always how the terms where used.

I have some problems with this new version of the article. I think that it blurs the boundaries between hackers and crackers, especially in the talk of "black hat" and "white hat" hackers (terms I have never heard before). "Black hat" hacking (as I understand it) seems to be the same thing as cracking. -- Simon J Kissane

Black Hat Hacking is intended to be the same thing as Cracking. I'm glad the point was clear even if I didn't write that particular section. (I did rearrange the content though.) In common use there are three meanings of the word Hacker, and I was trying to cover all three. The press doesn't generally say Black Hat Hacker, they just say Hacker, but it is a common usage, and thus should be described. -- ksmathers
Well, while I admit it is a common usage, a lot of people strongly disagree with people who break into computers being called hackers, and would rather have them called crackers. And I disagree that there are three common meanings of the term. I can only count two: hacker in the sense of an expert programmer; and hacker in the sense of someone who breaks into computers. Your 'black hat'/'white hat' distinction seems to amount to little more than a 'good' cracker / 'bad' cracker distinction. And the terms 'black hat' and 'white hat' are not in common use -- the point wasn't really clear: I had to guess what you meant, and I could only do that because I am already more than familiar with what we are talking about here. So I respectfully suggest you delete this 'black hat'/'white hat' hacker discussion, and leave it just with the 'hacker'/'cracker' distinction that was there originally. - Simon J Kissane
On the contrary, Black Hat, and White Hat are very commonly used terms among the security community. Here is a random link I just found. Execute a search on Google if you truly don't believe that the usage is commonplace.
I would also rather that people didn't use Hacker and Cracker interchangably. What is more I'd rather that it didn't rain on my Birthday. I can understand a certain idealistic attachment to keeping the meaning of the word secure to your own preferences, but I also have an idealistic streak. My idealistic streak is to represent without bias the actual way the world is. -- ksmathers
I have recently heard of a new phrase amongst my students, (I am a computer science lecturer) which refers to hackers. It is "White Wig" hackers and refers to "Ethical hackers". The wig connection is to judges in courts of law.

When referring to the term 'hacker' it may be useful to reference/consult a source like the Oxford English Dictionary. It lists two definitions, one referring to criminals, one referring to experts. Many people are arguing which definition is correct, but unfortunately, since English changes so often, they are both correct since they are both used. Here is the direct quote from OED: a. A person with an enthusiasm for programming or using computers as an end in itself. colloq. (orig. U.S.). b. A person who uses his skill with computers to try to gain unauthorized access to computer files or networks. colloq. Following each of these definitions is a list of references. It sould be noted that 'a' definition appeared in 1976, while the 'b' definition appeared in 1983. In my personal opinion, the first term should be emphasized as the original (and most likely) correct term, while the second was a distortion (by the Daily Telegraph, among others). However, NEITHER definition should be removed, or discouraged, since this is Wikipedia, and all definitions are important. I also should note that I could not find a computer-related definition for 'cracker.' It may simply be that this term is too new or not widely used, I'm not sure. 06:41, 28 May 2006 (UTC) anon

The PDP-1 comment is wrong, see the first chapter in Levy - TMRC people fiddled with 704 and TX-0 before PDP-1 appeared. Not sure how best to phrase tho. Stan 23:18 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

You are quite right, but I left it as the PDP-1 since that was the computer where the hacker culture really got going (although I suppose it was going pretty good with the TX-0). Also, TMRC didn't own the PDP-1 (or TX-0); computers were too expensive back then. I think they both belonged to RLE, but that might be wrong. Noel 16:28, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Removed from article:

"The term hacker should not be used indiscriminately, as those who have proven themselves as adept understanders of modern technology are increasingly few and far between."


  • Wikipedia ought not to give advice like this; it should just state facts
  • "hacker" does not equal "adept understanders of modern technology": how many hackers could explain modern technology in all its facets?
  • presumably, the author meant "modern computer technology", but what is the source of the assertion that such people are increasingly few and far between?

--Cyan 09:24, 19 Sep 2003 (UTC)

What sort of image, if any, would improve the Hacker page? I've added a new page for the (proposed) Hacker Emblem and listed it under "See Also". Lacking another image, does anyone think including that emblem would improve this page? Or is it too political or unrecognized? Ds13 20:14, 2004 Feb 22 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the emblem - it is only one person's idea, and I'm not sure it would be fair to claim it symbolizes an entire culture, or set of cultures. Perhaps something from the MIT Gallery of Hacks, if permission can be obtained? NMcCoy 22:48, Mar 23, 2004 (UTC)
I, too, do not think the emblem is universally hacker: it's only one person's idea, and it is silly to claim it symbolizes an entire culture, or set of cultures, especially one generally antiposed to marketing strategies like emblems. An emblem strikes me as a cool script-kiddie way of looking at hacking, and carries none of the quiet unobtrusiveness which typifies the hacker. Yet I like ESR's other contributions.

This sentence: "Whether this is good (white hat) or bad (black hat) may depend on whether you are the US Government or not, but is generally considered by the computing community to be a white hat type of activity." needs to be supported better, to remain within NPOV.

The example of disassembling MS code is at best 'grey hat' type of activity because it was clearly disassembling proprietary code, and clearly circumventing laws. White hat must retain a reputation for perfect legality, and a high standard of ethics if it is to mean something. Thus, this was a grey matter. Please use 'white hat' to refer to Larry Wall, or open source hacking, or closed-source disassembling which has some universally undeniable virtue like it clearly saves lives, or proves election fraud, not simply gets around cryptography exportation laws.
Some people here discuss the idea by some hackers that hackers who break a law while hacking are not hackers. Which is fine. So we have a distinction that these people want to make: legal hackers and illegal hackers. OK. I would say though that if this distinction would be made, some of the people in the latter group would also be interested in an internal distinction within the latter group - between those that break the law but do things which they feel are harmless or even positive, and people who break the law and do things which are either self-serving (stealing money for their own personal use) or malicious in a misanthropic sense (trying to derail trains by computer out of a sense of misanthropy, or shutting down the 911 fire/ambulance system to try to kill people).
It seems that not only do some "all-legal" hackers want to distinguish between legal hacking and illegal hacking (with the second you violate the authority of the government, it no longer be hacking in their eyes), they want to heap scorn on these hackers, jumbling up someone who breaks into NASA just to have a look around their computers, with someone trying to cause as much mayhem as possible out of a sense of misanthropy.
I should point out that the US government used hacking methods to blow up (and probably kill) people in some remote USSR outpost. That is why I say misanthropic - whether that was misanthropic or not is debatable, but one could argue they did it for political reasons out of philanthropy (love of humanity). Or one could argue the opposite.
So if you're going to split hackers into legal and illegal ones, please do not give the POV asserion that everything that is illegal is malicious. In the US, aiding runaway slaves used to be illegal, and smoking marijuana is currently illegal, although that doesn't mean either of these activities is necessarily malicious.
Also, the common usage of hackers who break the law is - hackers. You can note that some people dislike this, but it's common usage, and thus they should be called hackers on Wikipedia. Long John Silver 02:08, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Its just that the term hacker is now understood by the media as a derogatory term describing illegal activities, if I was to come up to someone and tell them I am a hacker, i would have to explain that this does not include illegal activities. It is possible that many crackers are also hackers, but because of this anyone is a hacker is now assumed to also be a cracker. FR34K 16:23, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Circa (2004-07-03) edits

The truth is that the term "hacker" is controversial and that there is no widely accepted definition, beyond that it refers to some kind of computer expert (good or bad). The article was POV because it advocated a specific definition. Personally, I don't really care what it means, but I'm quite familiar with all the discussion. I have rewritten the article for clarity and to make the fact that there is a controversy clear. --Shibboleth 00:57, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Added WPI Hackers of the '70's. Many of the people listed here were instrumental in some of the technologies and practices of current systems and it seemed appropriate to show a sense of history of the genre. 01:45, 02 Aug 2004

Older Usage?

Er... this is purely anecdotal, but: My uncle and two friends of his were programmers in the late 1960s to early 1970s era, (they are all electrical engineers today). They often use the term "hacker" in a way that would seem to make it synonymous with script kiddie, as in "Oh, yeah, that guy was just a hacker, he didn't know how to do anything." I was just wondering if "hacker" as "some kind of computer expert" is perhaps only a newer definition, with an older meaning of "lacking in expertise?" AdmN 06:14, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Check out the famous MIT railroad club, that's where it all started :-) Kim Bruning 20:45, 29 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Absolutely concur. I can tell you, from personal experience, that the word was in use at MIT in the 1970s to sort of mean "computer expert". I say "sort of" because it had a subtly different meaning from "wizard", which was the term we really used for a total expert. I have a hard time putting my finger exactly on the difference, but a "hacker" sort of also meant a certain emotional dedication to programming, a certain attitude, whereas "wizard" purely measured people on the skill axis. My Master, Prof. Jerry Saltzer, was clearly a wizard, but he wasn't a hacker. Noel 14:18, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)


The distribution of 'noteable' hackers into categories seems to be a repeating point of contention, and is ultimately subjective. We have people with criminal convictions in "security experts", which seems to leave open the implication that they're just there because someone likes them enough not to put them in "intruders and criminals". The article itself notes that the categories overlap.

Might it be more appropriate to do away with categories, itemize the reasons why they were previously categorized [ie, their history], and let the reader decide?


Why is this article so stuck on the computer aspect of hackers as far as I see computers have little to do with what a hacker IS. urban explorers are hackers too you know. I would love to see the fact that a person dosen't need any computer experience to be a "hacker" come through in this definition. While still recognizing the media induced myth(my opinion) of hacker as having to be a computer genius/criminal. there is a hint of it kinda I guess in bringing up locksmithing but not really the way it is put. I can't deny that the two defintions set forth are true but the majority of people I know consider this much info on the debate ignorant. Still I don't know what to do with it. it seems there has been so much change to this document only the people who care to fight to keep their opinions there are not eventually filtered out.

Adrian Lamo? hacker?! All he did was scan for open proxies on large companies, he would then use them to connect to their internal network. This is talent of a scriptkid, not a hacker. He is only coined with the term hacker, because he would contact news companies and they would do a story on the "poor homeless hacker". He was homeless by choice, he wasn't forced to live on the streets. I think this entry should be removed, it will taint the meaning of the hacker definition. He was only in the game for publicity, and MANY agree with me.

I know! He's a total jerk. I'd nix him myself on those grounds, but it'd run afoul of WP:NOR & WP:NPOV :)
Adrian Lamo · (talk) · (mail) · 08:12, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

The use of the term "hacker" in the computer-related sense starts in the late 1950's; Levy, Hackers dates it to 1959 (see pp. 11-17). Since the first computer with any technical security measures (CTSS, the first time-sharing system, first operated in 1961) post-dates this by two years, we can conclusively determine that any possible use of the term for "someone who breaks into computers" post-dates the earlier meaning "someone who was interested in computers". I personally don't recall use of the term "hacker" to describe people breaking security until roughly around 1980 (driven mostly by half-clued reporters), but it would be worth looking into some old Multics/Tenex/etc documents to see what they called people who tried to break into the system. Noel (talk) 16:28, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Hacker vs. cracker difference

/:> diff hackers crackers

Hacking is about breaking computers protection, mostly from an outside network with the use of software security flaws.
Cracking is about breaking software protection, mostly through the analysis of its assembly code (reverse engineering).

You are a hacker when you hack and a cracker when you crack. You can be of course both of them. The article statement, that hackers are good, while crackers are bad, is totally wrong. It repeats the old media trash talk. Notice, that the definition of hacking/cracking is ethically independent. It is all about the kind of protection you break, not the reason of doing it (that's the white/black hats story).

YES, thank you. This irks me forever. I have delved into hacking via trojans and brute force password "cracking" software, both, and never at that point did I consider myself a "cracker"... those are "hacker" things. I'm a "cracker" when I pop open a hex editor or decompiler and use it to bypass copyright protection, creating a "crack" or "cracking" the software. God I hate this, and have forever. The "black hat" "white hat" crowd gets annoying too. These all seem like people who are on the outside looking in, and I wish they'd stop trying to write articles/speak about the subject altogether.
Also, while I'm ranting, at what point did "phishing" evolve into usage for the bank/ebay/other password dupe routines for fooling people into handing over their passwords? If I recall correctly, phishing was originally a social engineering trick, or a mass mail social engineering technique. Did the term evolve in the popular lexicon or what? A Phisher used to be able to get your password with literally zero technical skill, but now they have to write entire pages in various web languages and operate the supporting software? Something seems off about that. Term encompassing zero skill->Term encompassing moderate skill transition is bad for a language.
JudgeX 22:08, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
The Hacker/Cracker semantic break can be relatively easily traced to events circa 1983 via Google's USENET groups archive. Your usage is correct within the limited technical community of those who work as criminal Security hackers; however, the wider hacker community has historically and vociferously rejected your usage, while the wider world simply does not understand any distinction between such forms of magic. See entry the Hacker definition controversy for more info.
Google's archive can also be used to track the origin of the use of "phishing". Pre-1996, the only usage refered to following around the band Phish. Sometime circa early 1996, people began trying to obtain credit card and other personally identifying information from AOL users. The phishing article covers this origins. Ultimately, the essense of "phishing" is identity theft via social engineering, and still is; the additional technical sophistication now required is now is just a sign that a less-gulible crowd implies a greater depth to the con routine you need to run. Before, it was a simple trick; now, it's a harder trick, but essentially the same trick.
You might also wish to note that the remark you responded to was originally posted in March 2005; there have some changes in the article(s) since then. Abb3w 00:09, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Can we clear this up once and for all and seperate the articles with a very clear (and possibly lengthy) explanation on the hacker page saying to refer to cracker? Explanations of popular usage should also be included. Just because it's popular does not make it correct. Once we do this, it will allow Blackhat to redirect to Cracker (software) or Cracker, (computing). I know this is a touchy subject with many opinions, so this is mine. Avochelm 08:14, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Yes. Yes. Please sort this out now. These articles are in a real mess.
Regardless of whether we decide to use the traditional or journalistic meaning of hacker, this article describes two different concepts at the moment and an article should only describe one concept—not two that just happen to be homonyms. An encyclopedia is supposed to describe and disambiguate concepts, as opposed to inciting more confusion by confusing them in its own articles.
Please split this article. I suggest splitting it into crackers and hackers (traditional sense) as these are the most common terms used to distinguish the two.
Obviously, the traditional sense of hacker has different definitions and usages too (as do, to some extent, cracker and the sense of hacker that is synymous with cracker), but they all describe roughly the same concept.
--Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley talk contrib 15:42, 2005 Mar 26 (UTC)
This is a touchy area. There is the media (common) definition that all hackers are horrible and that hacking is breaking into websites. But, then there is the complicated definition used by us in the hacker community differentiating between a hacker and a cracker, etc. We should just explain that the definition will vary and that it is a POV issue. --Shell 20:54, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Definition of Hacker from an Old Programmer

My commercial programming experience started in 1972, so some of you have experience pre-dating mine, but this is my understanding of the term "hacker" when used in a programmer context.

Some programmers take pride in the logical elegance of their code. When they saw some programmer who relied on persistence and 'brute force' to accomplish (or not) his tasks, he was referred to as a 'hacker'. Imagine someone cutting down a tree with a dull axe. He hacks at it until he succeeds although his work is ugly to behold.

When security of systems became a concern, the term 'hacker' was also used to refer to someone who, not knowing the designed method of gaining access, tried numerous techniques to find flaws in the system that would allow him access. i.e. he would 'hack' at it until it broke.

When computers came out of the air-conditioned, raised-floor, keycode-protected rooms and into popular culture of the office desk and dining room table, a hacker who could break into a computer system was viewed as an expert.

So, now we have conflicting meanings of the term 'hacker' representing 2 sides of the programming knowledge fence; a programmer without finesse, and a skilful intruder of computer systems.

My take on the matter

  • Hackers are people who are expert at computers and use them for fun - in contrast to "normal" users, for whom the computer is a means, not an end. Hackers also subscribe to the hacker ethic.
  • Crackers are people who break security - this is often the extent of their computer knowledge.
  • The two are not mutually exclusive.
  • Cracking is (almost) always illegal; hacking may or may not be legal: it depends on what is being done.
  • (Computer) hacking almost always involves programming. Non-computer hacks are often harmless practical jokes that require some intelligence to set up.

I believe that the confusion between hackers and crackers comes from the fact that hackers appear to be secretive about what they are doing on the computer, thus leading to an assumption that they are doing something they shouldn't be, where in fact they are just too busy to talk, or don't want to be bothered explaining something very technical.

Finally, I must note that it is nice to (at last) find something other than the Jargon File that presents hackers as experts, even if it does suggest that the same word is correctly used for security breakers!

-- QS Computing.

You are incorrect in your assessment of the source of confusion. A search of the Google Usenet archive in the 1980-1983 timeframe will show anyone who wishes to spend time doing easy historical research that
  • "Hacker" was used in both intruder and non-intruder senses prior to 1983
  • The media (beginning with CBS news) saw that "Hacker" was the term used to describe intruders, and popularized it as such around then
  • The computer community did not approve of the media exclusively popularizing a negative use of what had been a generally positive word, and attempted to coin alternate terminology.
The "confusion" (or more accurately, the differing usages) is a legacy of this culture conflict. This is one of the more noteworthy spots in the Google archive in the matter. Such evidence shows that in both historical computer community and current popular usages, intruders may correctly be described as hackers — although not all hackers are intruders. Whether such is correct usage in a technical community, and whether the technical community's usage ought to be promulgated to the general public, are separate issues. (See also Nix v. Hedden -- this is not a new problem.)
abb3w 21:32, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
See also this outside link on the hacker etymology and recent dictionary denotation. abb3w 21:32, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Please stop referring to hacking as cracking when it is negative. Cracking is totally different. Cracking is bypassing software security. Hacking is an entire field of computer-related knowledge, from basic security bypassing down to writing automated hacking tools (brute force password "cracking" is hacking). Hacking is when you are breaking the security of a system (usually accessing other people's accounts of said system, or accessing admin roles of that system when you are not supposed to), while Cracking is creating or using a "crack" for/on a piece of software in order to bypass registration restrictions etc. The toolset is completely different. Think of it this way: Hackers are "Hacking In" and Crackers are "Cracking Software", not "Cracking In". Both of these things require an entirely seperate volume of knowledge and skills, while both require a similar high proficiency with computers. Old schoolers will talk to you about how Hacking also refers to programmers who use inelegant solutions, and hardware geeks. The terminology has now shifted to fit the modern information age. Programmers who use elegant solutions are called "Programmers", and programmers who use alternative solutions (sometimes called "kludges") are "Programmers who have likely been mislabeled by snob programmers". A solution is a solution until it breaks under a realistic stressor. That's the bottom line. JudgeX 22:21, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
You are again responding to very old comments, and in this case appear to ignore the earlier rebuttal (which is why I've reordered this section accordingly). I would suggest you discuss this over at the hacker definition controversy talk page — and cite references; if you can provide some as to what extent the current distinction exists (or doesn't), it might go a long way towards settling this before the next millenium. Abb3w 00:22, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Other meanings


According to the article, French haquenee is the origin of hackney and later hack. However, the Diccionario Crítico Etimológico Castellano e Hispánico by Joan Corominas and José A. Pascual gives in the etimology of Spanish jaca ("mare") the contrary: jaca comes from French haque which comes from English hack which comes from Middle English hakeney (which also gives French haquenée and Spanish hacanea), derived from the village Hackney Wick from London, with famous grazing terrain and the main horse market in the London area. They give 1367 for haquenée and 1457 for haque, circa 1400 for faca, and 1292 for hakeney. They quote Skeat (Etym. Dict. s.v. y suplemente; Rom. XXXVII, 164): Hackney (Hakeneya, Hakeney) in Middlesex is an horse grazing area near Smithfield, the most famous horse market in the London area. Hackney would mean "property of Haca by a river".

Hack only appears in English in 1687 (according to NED).

The DRAE maintains this same etimology. --Error 00:58, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)



I removed the below section, as there are no articles on the topics. If anyone wants to make an article on them, they should make a disambiguation page for hacker. Neonumbers 01:52, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

== Other meanings of the word "hacker" ==
New York street sign, c. 1963
Hacker (and Hack) are also terms for a taxicab driver (because a taxicab can be called a hack, a shortened form of hackney carriage).
A hacker, in golf, means a duffer, a mediocre player who enjoys playing but makes no serious effort to improve his skill.
Also, Hacker is the name of the Russian cyberculture journal XAKEP.
I've thrown the above material into the hackers disambiguation page. When someone has time, they should probably sort out and merge the hackers/hacking disambiguation pages; the overlap is substantial. abb3w 15:22, 07 Jul 2005 (UTC)

Gaming Sense


Hacker is also someone who plays ASCII dungeon romps, rogue-likes, eg. Hack or Nethack.

And, naturally, a software modifier too - If I'm not entirely mistaken the whole term came from hacking, quickly fixing or patching, a program to perform something that's either cool, wanted or necessary.

Added the Rogue-likes definition to the Hackers disambiguation page. I would say software modifiers are covered already under either the programmer and security definitions (depending on the nature of modification). abb3w 25 July 2005 14:15 (UTC)

Notable Hackers

Is Gates a hacker?

I wonder why Bill Gates is included in this list. He is very successful as a businessman, but that's not the same as being a hacker. Is there any positive indication that he fits? There might be a reason I don't know about, but I hope someone will check. --RMS Sep 25 2005

I believe it is because Gates' early BASIC software was pretty impressive, and there's a story to the effect that when Gates dropped out of Harvard with the other guy, they tried to get a contract to provide the bundled interpreter/compiler for a particular popular early PC; the story then says that they wrote an emulator for that PC sight unseen, and wrote their BASIC compiler using the emulator in a few days- which when they demonstrated it to the execs responsible for deciding what would be bundled performed flawlessly (ironic, I know...) Unfortunately, I don't have specifics at hand. And may I say thanks for all your work, esp. Emacs? --Maru (talk) 03:15, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Found a reference. From Pekka Himanen's The Hacker Ethic:
"When Gates co-founded the company in 1975, he was just a hacker like Joy, Wozniak, or Torvalds. Computers had been his passion from childhood, and had used all the time available to him programming the local Computer Center Corporation's computer. Gates even gained hacker respect by programming his first interpreter of the BASIC programming language without access to the computer for which it was intended (the MITS Altair): it worked."
I think Microsoft BASIC was very unimpressive (goto in MS BASIC being O(n), where n is the line number you go to?). By todays standards, fitting a BASIC interpreter in 8 KiB is pretty impressive, but not by the standard of that day. Anyway, I believe Paul Allen was the guy wrtting most of the code. --Per Abrahamsen 16:17, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Well, I wasn't around then. His early hobbyist software work is merely the most plausible reason I can find for the accolade of hacker being accorded him. --Maru (talk) 19:41, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
That's a bit of an overgeneralization. Keep in mind he had minimal tools to work with, just the specs MITS had given and what Paul Allen had worked out (Paul Allen wrote an ALTAIR simulator to test it). It ran without a hitch the first time they ran it on an actual altair (they didn't have access to one until they showed up at MITS hq), although that's arguably more of an achievement on the part of Allen.
I also found a more extensive biography of Gates' early work. It's not as well known, but he did a lot of tinkering early on. I think a lot is to be said of someone who is given minimal computing access decades ago (when it was scarce) and managed to take advantage of it to learn so much on their own. He got access to his first computer through a deal with his school and the Computer Center Corporation. He broke into the CCC's network and computer systems, was eventually caught and banned. However, they kept having problems with stability and security, so they actually hired Gates to fix their problems for them.
So give the bio a read. I think the whole hacker distinction for wikipedia is POV anyway, but if you want to be fair, I'd say that Gates would qualify. --Nathan J. Yoder 04:16, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
First off, Gates wrote all the code for Basic - see the references to the (newly expanded!!!) microsoft article and/or google a bit. Second, even though the original Basic itself was hacked together in few weeks (and indeed Allen was surprised it worked) I'm not sure whether that qualified Gates as a "hacker". Of course, I don't really have an opinion on the matter either :). Ryan Norton T | @ | C 20:14, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
A Microsoft Press book entitled "Programmers at Work," a very, very good read by the way, has a chapter about Gates and it's got some of his handwritten notations for BASIC. There's no doubt in my mind that he was a perfectly good programmer, of the same caliber as many of the early microcomputer hackers, and there's no reason to denigrate his contribution. --Dpbsmith (talk) 20:40, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Referring to Bill Gates,I can only remember the words like "64KB mem is enough for everyone","JAVA is the best language I have seen before"...Did he talk about any technic specific in public? --turezurezuki

This is why he's under "media personalities". While he has a credible claim as a coder, is arguably the pre-eminient hacker success story, and has been a profound influence (good or not) on the very nature of hacking, of late he's been more "famous for being famous" than anything else. Abb3w 20:39, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

The last bit of code he wrote was in 1987 and it was described by a Microsoft worker as being a piece of crap. He's an extremely good businessman, but his code sucks.

"Brilliant" Hackers

Guido and Larry Wall are "Brilliant Hackers" ? I think that may be a stretch ;) --Jdavis79 05:53, 20 July 2005 (UTC)


I dispute the inclusion (and indeed the existance) of "Zeljko Vidas a.k.a. STONEY." A Google search on "Zeljko Vidas" gives only 37 hits, many of which come from the page itself. The story also seems unlikely, and is in the wrong section in any case. This seems like vanity to me, but I was wary of removing it in case it turns out to be genuine. 02:31, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

Wiki History function can be fun! The segment was added 08:50, 13 July 2005 from as a vandalism of the "Security Experts" section, reverted 09:19, 13 July 2005. A second attempt added the material to the security experts section on 18:15, 16 July 2005 from (another IP on the same Hungarian dialup address bank). Based on the internal description, I tried to move this individual listing to "Intruders and Criminals" in with a number of other edits around 15:30, 22 July 2005 — which failed as a result of my doing too much in too short a time. The individual probably is "genuine" in that there is a computer user operating under that handle, but probably closer to the Script Kiddie end of the Hacker spectrum than a serious Computer Intruder, and almost certainly not a noteworthy Computer Security expert. Still, either the Croatian or Hungarian police might be interested. Anyway, after looking into this, I have removed the most recent segment version from the article to below.
* Zeljko Vidas a.k.a. STONEY is a known security intruder known for his
˝white hat˝ intrusions and fast operating. He is one of two people who
wrote the viral decomposer TITANIC which brought down over 70
companies, and can still be found on the net. Infiltrated into the files
of croatias police dept. and deleted some records. It is still not known
how he did it.
Zaraza may be similarly tooting his/her own horn-- see circa 22:44, 17 April 2005 in the Hacker article history, and also the very limited Zaraza (hacker) article history. The latter article may be a candidate for speedy deletion if the link here is worth removing. However, there's at least a Website associated, which I can't make head nor tail of since I speak hardly any Russian that isn't obscene. =) abb3w 05:01 31 Jul 2005 (UTC)
Reverted article after reintroduction of STONEY material from (below)
* Zeljko Vidas a.k.a. STONEY is an known security expert known for his
"white hat" intrusions and fast operating. He is one of two people wich
wrote the interseptic virus TITANIC wich has brought down over 70
companies and can still be found on the net. -Hacked into croatias police
dept. and deleted neumorous records of the highest priority.
Text is similar to last deleted material, only with worse spelling. Note that the IP is from the same bank as the previous instances. This looks to be a minor Script Kiddie tooting his own horn, which is not what Wikipeida is for. abb3w 17:01 4 Aug 2005 (UTC)

Minor Edit Controversies

Edit 2005-07-05

Reverted edits by to last version by

The "stereotype" bulleted list seemed rather arbitrary and pointless tacked on to the end of the History section. -- antichris


Jeff Douthwaite 21:16, 24 November 2006 (UTC) I suggest a VIP question at this date 11/24/06, is: Can anyone hack into a Diebold voting machine and arrange it to come out with a win for the GOP? I suspect answer is No, but scuttlebutt is Yes... rsvp Jeff Douthwaite 21:16, 24 November 2006 (UTC) Someone at delinked as "irrelevant" Spacewar! from the timeline reference to the (7 Dec 1972) Rolling Stone piece SPACEWAR: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums (link to easily found off-site pirate(?) reprint). I dispute this charge of irrelevancy.

  • Spacewar! was one of the major cultural Hacker icons of that era, which is one of the two primary reasons there remains any interest in it today. (The other is that it was the first "video" game — and is arguably related that way anyhow.) The reference is therefore relevant to the nature of "hacker".
  • The average person not obsessed with the history of computer gaming or hackers is generally unfamiliar with Spacewar!. The reference is thus likely to be informative.
  • The Spacewar! Wikipedia article is indeed about the same game talked about in the original Rolling Stone article. The subject of the reference is accurate.

I plan to put it back by end-of-week if someone doesn't talk me out of it or beat me to it.

In a related note, this quote by Alan Kay from the Rolling Stone article might be worth throwing in at that point in the timeline to show typical meaning/usage from the era: "A true hacker is not a group person. He's a person who loves to stay up all night, he and the machine in a love-hate relationship... They're kids who tended to be brilliant but not very interested in conventional goals[...] It's a term of derision and also the ultimate compliment."

In an unrelated note, I find this quote also amusing: "Since huge quantities of information can be computer-digitalized and transmitted, music researchers could, for example, swap records over the Net with 'essentially perfect fidelity.' So much for record stores (in present form)." Rolling Stone has been standard reading for the Music business since it was founded; the RIAA had more than 25 years warning before Napster showed up, so it's their own damn fault. =) abb3w 15:30 8 Aug 2005 (UTC)


Was Stephen Levy's 1984 book "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" the first book to use the phrase "Hacker Ethic" and to codify it? His codification was:

  • Access to computers—and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works—should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-on Imperative!
  • All information should be free.
  • Mistrust authority—promote decentralizatioin.
  • Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race or position.
  • You can create art and beauty on a computer.
  • Computers can change your life for the better.

I'm thinking this specific codification probably belongs in the article. (I'm also amazed at how well it aligns with Wikipedia...)

Stewart Brand did a lot to publicize "classic" hackers and hacking, and I am trying to recall the details, but he organized a number of conferences on hacking in the classic sense. The first might have been called "Hackers 84," the second "Hackers 2.0" or something like that. Dpbsmith (talk) 13:44, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I added Stephen Levy's "Hackers" to the list of books. I don't understand why it wasn't there to to begin with. But I surely don't understand why the books listed are listed at all. Was/is there some sort of slection criteria with which I am unfamiliar? I'm tempted to nominate the whole section for deletion or at least serious clean-up as it appears to be completely random and adds little to the article.

--ElKevbo 22:50, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Also - can someone help find the information for the first printing of Levy's book? The information currently in the article is for the most recent version published in 2001.

--ElKevbo 22:55, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

My best guess is that books get added more or less at random, as someone finds it interesting/relevant, much like the rest of Wikipedia growth. I suspect the "forthcoming" one was originally added by the pseudonymous author in an attempt to increase sales, but can't prove that. I left it sorted by publication date, IIR. I'd recommend against outright section deletion, as several of the books are indeed fundamental to hacker anthropology — Sterling and Levy (thx!) heading that list. However, some of the lower quality books could well be removed from the list; I'd consider the tapeworm book a good candidate, unless someone has a review copy.
The 1st printing of the Levy book was Doubleday Books, November 1984, ISBN 0385191952. I recommend use of a Google site: search of to first find any one edition; Amazon usually has links to all other editions on the page, with one of the hardcovers usually (but not always) being the first edition. Obscure international books (EG: Apro&Hammond) may not show up, but coverage is probably 99.9%.
--abb3w 11:48, 26 July 2005 (UTC)


I removed the "Tapeworm" book, as it isn't published yet. Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. I would also recommend separation of the book section along the lines of the "Notable Hackers" section. 00:31, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

Excavation in the Wiki history shows the book added 23:24, 29 April 2005 from IP in external links to the Amazon listing; the attempted reintroduction made today was apparently made from IP According to my favorite IP address locator, both of these are in Peoria, IL. Given the book is yet unreleased, I suspect an interested party (perhaps the Author?) tooting their own horn. I've removed the reference added to Leet back at the same point in April as well. I wonder if the Peoria FBI office would care for a possible lead? =)
abb3w 23:35, 3 Aug 2005 (UTC)

Grammatically awkward?

Does anyone else find the phrase “for either performance needs and/or attractiveness” [emphasis mine] Hacker: Hardware modifier to be awkward?

Logic English
A or B A and/or B
A xor B either A or B

To my knowledge, or cannot simultaneously be inclusive and exclusive.

Why “Intruder(s) and criminal(s)” first?

I think it would be preferable that the “Intruder and criminal” category and its pluralized counterpart under Notable hackers were not presented first, as that tends empasize that the negative defenitions as the primary ones (to the diminishing of the others’ apparent significance). And after all, Wikipedia’s underlying code is, by in large, the work of hackers, and it can’t serve any criminal purpose that I can think of. 01:02, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

I see no problem with the above suggested change. Go ahead and be bold and change it. Same with the either A and/or B thing.
Also, please sign talk comments with ~~~~. I've moved your comment to the end (it works better that way).
Pengo 01:50, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
While I second encouraging the "Be Bold" philosophy (and have fixed the A/B thing already) I'd disagree about whether the Intruder or Programmer definition order should be changed. Foremost, however, I'd say that the structure of the "Categories", "Notable", and "Definition -- Common Contemporary Meanings" portions should all be kept parallel to each other; any change in order of one should be made in all to keep them in parallel.
The question of which meaning comes first ties fundamentally into the debate over the "true" meaning of the term. Which definition comes first will inevitably emphasize one term over the other to some extent, and in a fundamentally POV issue to boot. I feel most would agree the Security and Hardware definitions are secondary; the debate is over which of two definitions should be the primary: the widespread contemporary usage of Intruder, or the historical usage as Programmer. While such sections are generally considered bad form, I feel the Controversy and Ambiguity section is an exception due to the solitary nature of controversy being over which meaning is primary. Neither side disputes the existance or accuracy of the other's meaning; they just feel the other usage is "outdated" or "improper", depending on side.
The question of which of these two meanings to emphasize, even if "unintentionlly", leads to two different structures: one with historical usage given primary emphasis, another with the contemporary meaning given primary emphasis. I believe the current structure is better.
  • First, I point out (again) the historical correctness of the use as Intruder prior to the 1983 reactionary introduction of "Cracker"; see lots of discussion above, as well as in the C&A section of the article.
  • Second, I also point to the fact that — unfortunate though I myself consider it as a self-identified Hacker — the "Intruder and Criminal" sense is the most common and popular usage in the overall population; it is only within the technical community that the positive usages remain primary, and not always then. As such, I would argue that — in a Neutral POV — the "preference" of having the positive meaning first reflects an agenda desiring to push the positive uses of the word as "correct", and thus I argue is inappropriate. The shibboleth notation is about as close as we can come in encouraging the heathen unwashed masses to conform their usage to the one true Hacker Creed. =)
In a semi-irrelevant note, the presence of the Jargon File entry is misleading as to the primacy of the positive meanings; see the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions web version of American National Standard T1.523-2001 entry on Hacker for comparison; since a single entry of a web-available dictionary should qualify as fair use (especially if properly cited), I may work that in later for POV Contrast/Balance.
In another semi-irrelevant note: an inability to think of criminal uses (or more precisely, abuses) for Wikipedia merely indicates limited imagination.
Abb3w 19:10, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Criminal hacker and Hacker --> 2 articles

I'd like to get feedback on the idea of spliting the article into two.

While the current article gives fair treatment to "both" types of hackers, and I acknowledge they have a related meaning, but the article is pretty unweildly, and there is very little information that is common to both hackers (geek-sense) and criminal hackers (crackers). The format has become very much Hacker this, Cracker that, Hacker this, Cracker that...

Advantages of splitting the article:

  • Shorter articles
  • More readable and better flow
  • Ability to link to the appropriate usage from other articles
  • Reader can choose which sense they wish to read about instead of skipping about the place
  • People who overlap categories will simply be on both pages
  • Better treatment can be given to each topic.
  • Less of this article will need to be spent explaining terminology, more on the subject itself.
  • "See also", "External links" and "Related books" could have their target audience more easily distinguished. Note that "Categories of hacker" and "Notable hackers" are already separated out.

I also propose the new articles be called Hacker and Black hat hacker (or just Black hat or Criminal hacker? any thoughts on names?)

Also, I'm just going to do these changes, because I know no consensus every comes from these discussions.

Pengo 01:40, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Hi. I've made changes.

Basically the contents of what was in Hacker are now spread over:

Please check out the above articles and fix them where you can.

While i've tried to keep many references to black hats in the hacker article, i'm not sure they're strong enough.

I do not want to pretend the Hacker (computer security) usage of hacker is "wrong" or "not proper" or a "totally different meaning". The articles seem much clearer now. Still some tidying up is certainly in order, and fixing of links and moving about of see also things.

I hope this is a positive step, much like when free software stopped trying to cover both FOSS and Freeware in one article. —Pengo 15:59, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Hacker media personalities

This would include Linus Torvalds, right?

Good call. He's not a self-proclaimed "hacker" (correct me if i'm wrong), but would certainly fit the definition given. He doesn't talk to the media about "hacking" (positive sense) like Stallman or ESR do. And he's also already listed in "Highly skilled programmers", and no one else seems to be listed twice. (shrugs). —Pengo 00:16, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Kevin Mitnick

Why isn't Kevin Mitnick listed as a famous hacker? I'd say he's the most famous person labeled as "hacker" by the media. (As in Bill Gates might be the most famous hacker, but he's not referred to as a "hacker" in the media.) --AlanH 01:52, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Shouldn't that be cracker? --Maru (talk) 01:58, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
Not to hear Kevin tell it, of course. He's a white-hack ;-) --AlanH 02:05, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
Kevin should definitely be mentioned in famous hackers... You have Gary McKinnon who many believe just got caught in a honeypot, but Mitnick, a HUGE case, is not even mentioned?
Thank you for your suggestion! When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make whatever changes you feel are needed. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the Edit this page link at the top. You don't even need to log in! (Although there are some reasons why you might like to…) The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. --ElKevbo 15:45, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Clean up this article!

Ok, this article needs serious cleaning. I'll include this quote:

"Types of hacker include Guru and Wizard. They have an atypical level of skill, even beyond other hackers. In some portions of the computer community, a Wizard is one who can do anything a Hacker can, but elegantly; while a Guru not only can do so elegantly, but instruct those who do not know how. In other portions, a Guru is one with a very broad degree of expertise, while a Wizard is expert in a very narrow field."

COME ON! This is a shame. You people can write better articles. --Shell 20:51, 4 October 2005 (UTC) (sorry, i am the guy who posted this. i did this back before I had an account here.)

You are entirely right, anon. Take the example you proffered: at the very least, we should trim it back to Jargon-file entries, and even just link to that. --Maru (talk) 03:52, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

"Highly skilled" inherently POV

The language "highly skilled" used to describe a programmer is inherently POV. When dealing with a technical community, the best NPOV distinction you can hope for is recognition through popularity. Specifically, recognition as being not _exceptionally_ skilled (I think "highly skilled" wouldn't be enough--a lot of programmers fit that description). There really isn't any other criteria you can use. So unless someone can come up with some better criteria for a section like this, I would consider deleting the list/rewriting it in a very different form. I'll leave this here for a month to give people time to comment. I'm not really sure how to rewrite it, because even with qualifications I'm not sure it would stand. I could say something like "Richard Stallman is considered by many in the open source community to be an exceptionally skilled hacker." But then again, many of those both inside and outside the OSS movement disagree. We could, for example, list Bruce Perens or ESR (who is fairly controversial) as well, but the same problem applies. --Nathan J. Yoder 04:26, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you're getting at. Do you think the article should not identify anyone who is widely regarded as a hacker due to programming skill alone? (?) --Yath 06:30, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
The problem is that there aren't that many people for whom there is a such a wide consensus on whether or not they are skilled hackers. The controversial figures listed in this article wouldn't qualify, as there are numerous people who would disagree with that description. I suppose figures like John Carmack are fairly non-controversial and there would be a wide consensus on him, but not ones like RMS and Linus Torvalds. Some of those in this list aren't even that well known, let alone widely regarded as hackers (e.g. guido van rossom and wietse venema). --Nathan J. Yoder 06:40, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree that the list should be maintained with care, and perhaps a couple of names removed. It's actually in pretty good shape right now, though. --Yath 23:32, 4 October 2005 (UTC)


Ok, I think that we should just wipe the slate clean and start a new article. That way we can start over without all of these disputes. --Shell 20:57, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Actually after my rewrite I thought it was decent. I still think the difference between hacker and cracker needs to be elaborated on a bit more though. --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 05:06, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Better to Create a Disambigous Page =

Sorry, I did not realize there was so much discussion. The solution, in my opinion, is to create a "hacker" page that has multiple definitions and then to point to different one. This page,should be changed to: Hacker (computer expert)

Let's not continue "religious war" and simply change it. In the US civil war, a "hacker" was someone who used axes and knives to "hack" telephone lines, and this predates computer hacking!!! Many computer security experts consider the term to have more of a negative meaning. The issues is not black-and-white.

I agree, the default page should be backer as in "person who breaks into computers", that's the meaning that most people looking it up would use. Nathan J. Yoder 05:46, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
Disagree. The default article should be about the correct term, not the most popular. Not to mention, favouring one point of view, even if it is the most popular, is a violation of NPOV. Firestorm 02:24, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't agree with Nathan at all. There is too much overlap between "computer experts" and "people who break into computers." Both Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak at some point tested their skills by breaking into computer systems. Except for the derogatory remarks about Stallman, I don't think the current article is that bad. --Gazpacho 01:45, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Zero G

"Zero G — Widely rumored to be female and and child prodigy of MIT, Zero G emerged in the late 1990's. Known to transverse government servers freely, Zero G has been sought after by multiple United States Federal Agencies and foriegn governments. Zero G may be among the top group of the new generation of computer hackers. Zero G's breakin of the CIA's central computer system in 2002 seems to be the most prominent public display. Known on IRC networks as ^G-spot, since 2002, Zero G publically has turned to "Hacker For Hire", striking a deal with the U.S. Federal Government to stop their pursuit in exchange for services rendered. Since early 2005 little has been heard of Zero G, rumored to have been pushed further underground from threats from the IDF."

Who wrote this? I searched the internet and found absolutely nothing. It sounds like a silly cyberpunk story taken too far. --Anon.

It's Reverted Nonsense. --Maru (talk) Contribs 19:36, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

ZeroCool vs AcidBurn should be in here somewhere then--mitrebox 01:17, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Declef Leyven


This article is a JOKE. It says that hackers are broken down into "Guru" and "Wizard." This is NEVER used in the hacker community. I propose that we have the article blanked and completely rewritten from the ground up.

Well, why don't you just mention that in the article. Say something like, occasionally referred to as a guru or wizard. --Primetime 06:04, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Because I have been a member of the hacker community for over five years and this term is just plain not used. --Shell 14:18, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, the English language has more words than any other language on Earth. As a Wiktionary addict, I never cease to be surprised which words are actually used by communities of English speakers around the world I never talk to. --Primetime 15:21, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
The past five years are a very recent strata of Internet history, and not representative. Presumably, the terms were used at some point. I've edited that section to indicate that they are almost entirely unheard of now.
Adrian Lamo · (talk) · (mail) · 21:22, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
A quick Google Groups search on comp.* newsgroups suggests that both terms are widely used in the present day.
esr's glossary defines
guru as "[Unix] An expert. Implies not only wizard skill but also a history of being a knowledge resource for others. Less often, used (with a qualifier) for other experts on other systems, as in VMS guru"
wizard as (in part) ...Someone is a hacker if he or she has general hacking ability, but is a wizard with respect to something only if he or she has specific detailed knowledge of that thing. A good hacker could become a wizard for something given the time to study it.... A Unix expert, esp. a Unix systems programmer. This usage is well enough established that ‘Unix Wizard’ is a recognized job title at some corporations and to most headhunters.
That's impeccable authority for their use in at least one important and widespread group of people who self-identify as "hackers." Your subculture may vary. Dpbsmith (talk) 23:28, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Back in the 1970s, before "hacker" became a pejorative, we did use the terms "guru" and "wizard" ... but after 30 years, the younger generation is ignorant of their heritage. (BTW, it was a professor in college who gave me the handle, The Wiz, after I showed him a few hacks on the campus mainframe, a Xerox Sigma-9. :-) --Dennette 03:10, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Hacker etymology

Can anyone confirm for me the fact that "hacker" is an abbreviation of the word "hijacker"? This is what I've always understood to be the history of the word but i'm not sure... If this can be confirmed then it needs to be in the article. --Ikefox 01:36, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

To the best of my knowledge, that's nowhere in the history of the word as used in English.
Adrian Lamo · (talk) · (mail) · 02:52, 16 January 2006 (UTC)


Hacker gets "hacked" by "hackers" every day. If you think you're a "hacker" and think you'll get mad respect for "hacking" this page (by hitting the edit button and typing some nonsense) then please reconsider. Your "hack" will be reverted by Wikipedia's own skilled hackers. In the meantime this page needs to be semiprotected. —Pengo 09:48, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

List of American hackers category

How do I convert this category Category:American hackers into a list to include it here ? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Unixer (talkcontribs) .

I assume you mean to link to it, possibly in the See also section? You quote it, like so: [[:Category:American hackers]], to produce Category:American hackers. --maru (talk) contribs 01:58, 29 March 2006 (UTC)


"However, because most hacks do not exploit systems or gain unauthorized access, most people who have enough technical skill to produce clever hacks consider the use of the word hacker in this sense to be bigotry. Malicious hackers in this sense are often called black hat hackers, but it is more appropriate to call them crackers(from criminal hacker) as this is a term which distinguishes the exploitation of security weaknesses from hacking in general." This is a shining example of POV in its native environment. Pti 19:32, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Unfortunately this type of thing keeps slipping into the article. Please don't hold back: go ahead and fix it. {{subst:subst:sofixit}} follows —Pengo 00:30, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your suggestion regarding [[: regarding [[:{{{1}}}]]]]! When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make whatever changes you feel are needed. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the Edit this page link at the top. You don't even need to log in! (Although there are some reasons why you might like to…) The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome.

meaning of hacker

Does hacker word also means that you know minute detais about a system?So will a compiler programmer will be called a hacker or not?what if someone knows everything about his car.Does it mean he is a hacker in that sense because he can extract every ounce of horse power from it?

This page is stupid

RMS and friends would like to think that the word 'Hacker' means someone skillful with computers. Let's face it; english is a fluid language, and 'Hacker' is now commonly used to mean 'Computer Criminal'. Do a search for Hacker on google news; you'll see tons of results for computer criminals, virtually zero for the Linus-style hacker. It should be re-written to mostly discuss computer criminals with a small section devoted to experts.


Hacker = one who hacks security of a computer and breaks in

Cracker = one who cracks copy protection of a software piece

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Plenty of people (though few journalists) use the term hacker in the other senses used in this article. You're looking for Hacker (computer security), which discusses the meaning used by the media. There used to be a link to it at the start of the hacker article. —Pengo 15:08, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

See also the reference to the Hacker definition controversy, which used to dominate the article before separating, and covers this issue quite comprehensively. The current article covering of both these (technically accurate) senses is as close to NPOV as can be gotten on the topic while on the internet. Feel free to discuss your position with editors at the OED. — abb3w (too lazy to sign in)


"John Carmack, a widely recognized and influential game programmer."

Apparently he's so widely recognized and influnetial that no one's ever heard of him! I think I can speak for most people when I say that I've never heard of him.

All this stuff about him could be true but I think you're exagerrating when you say "widely recognized" and I really doubt the average gamer would know who he is. And if that's not the case then maybe you should point out to whom exactly is he "widely recognized" by?

I would have said he is widely recognised, particularly by mid-90's gamers, the gaming media and other game programmers. He created Doom and Quake, and according to his article, appeared as number 10 in TIME's list of the 50 most influential people in technology. -- jeffthejiff 17:57, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
"Widely recognized" is an opinion, no matter the context. Regardless, just because you don't know who he is does not make it any less true. If you don't believe that the guy has a name, you need to brush up on your reading. Slashdot, perhaps. Or check out the book, "Masters of Doom". I'd be curious to see what you'd have to say after joining any "id produced" game forum and asking who he is. --HoH 04:07, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Horatio Huxley

I sincerely believe that the link and entry for Horatio Huxley does not deserve to be here. It was probably added by himself as some kind of self promotion stunt and reads like a CV. His is entry on Wikipedia previously contained false claims of his association with cDc, but this was removed. He is a relatively unknown character in South Africa who has only one claim to fame, and that is that he managed to write yet another key logger to demonstrate that you can capture online banking passwords. In fact, what he demonstrated in 2003 was already demonstrated previously by Nic Roets in 2001 and was covered by a national television station.

He managed to get a major South African news paper to do a story on this, and this same story was echoed in other publications. Otherwise, he is relatively unknown in the South African information security and hacker community and his entry and his references for credibility (dr_juz and Justin Shaw) are either fictional or insignificant. There are quite a number of black and white hat hackers in the South African scene who are certainly more noteworthy than this character and I wouldn't even go as far as saying any of them really deserve to be mentioned as notable hackers or security professionals on an international level.

Link spam

I removed the following links from the External links section as probable link spam:

Several of the other links probably also warrant removal but these seem to be the most obvious. --ElKevbo 14:37, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Remove biased Black Hat / White Hat terms

I agree that hacker is the correct term for someone who breaks into a computer and it is the first thought that people think of. Cracker meant something else during the formative years of hacking both legal and illegal, and to use it retroactively to describe something that already in the public's mind of the definition would be wasteful and misleading.

I would like to mention that using the terms black hat and white hat are useless because depending on the frame of referrence, everyone is some shade of grey hat. It's a confusing term that sounds like it belongs in dungeons and dragons books and not to describe hackers.

It is silly, almost monty-python-esque to describe someone as wearing a coloured hat. It is also a lazy short hand and highly biased. Please fill out the description of the hacker and let the reader of the article make up their mind as to where the indiviual falls. --Netw1z 13:05, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Simply because you disagree with the use of the terminology doesn't seem a good reason for removal. What matters is actual use, and regardless any personal reservations you or anybody else might have, it's important to know such commonly used jargon.
You seem to be arguing for wikipedia to take an active role and attempt to effect change and/or take up a moral stance, and in so doing alter the content it provides, rather than serve in a passive capacity as a vessel for information and culture. I'm not familiar enough with wikipedia to say with this with full certainty, but my impression of what this site aspires to do is very much the latter, with the dissemination of accurate, NPV information being the most overarching moral tenet.
That being said, I'm merely a lurker and not a regular contributor on this site, so I may be in error. I simply wanted to weigh in on the matter. -- 21:31, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I'd agree the usage has overly moralistic connotations — the term is also hardly Wikipedia:NPOV, given the Hacker definition controversy; ergo, I yanked most of it, moving a little of it to that page.
More importantly, it's also well covered in the main Hacker (computer security) entry in the Terminology section, and I would argue is only appropriate there. All of the instances of Black Hat Programming I've ever encountered (Windows jokes aside) are examples in the Black Hat Hacker (computer security) sense. While Black Hat Hardware hackers exist, they are RARE... and also (mostly) specialize in the security sense, either intrusion (concealed keystroke loggers or other functionality not for nominal end-user benefit) or counter-intrusion (ultra-fast self destruct systems; eg: cokebottle keystroke activated 5.25" thermite bay). Outside of the security context, there's seldom enough conscious morality in computer hardware or software for "hats" to make sense. (Black Magic is a different usage, not centered on morality.) I suppose a case mod designed to run at 130 dB to annoy the neighbors might qualify as Black Hat Hardware Hacking; hm, where's that old P3 case....
Netw1z also doesn't seem to understand the controversy, come to that — but that's a pet peeve of mine. From what I can tell, almost everyone either started using "hacking" in any computer sense after the '83 media controversy and are in no position to talk about hacking's "formative years", or are old style hackers who insist that computer intrusion can only be described as "cracking", despite no reference to it being used that way prior to the '83 media controversy. "Old" farts like me honest about the history are sadly rare. Abb3w 01:33, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Why do hackers brake down computers and stuff like that?

Why do they? I mean there is no reasing to do it. Even if it is a goal your probably gonna go to jail or something and be good after jail. Call of duty 05:47, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Likely for the same reason people climb mountains. ---J.S (t|c) 22:24, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


Who is the person in the photograph? And why is he in this article? I can't find any information about him. scskowron, 22:09, 24 June 2006

Um... evidently, someone known to Brian Katt? While I see no great necessity to labeling this particular person (Al Sheedakim, according to the file name) as a hacker, the picture as an illustration doesn't seem a bad example of the hacker as "semi-faceless computer geek", or (given the cold-light case) as a crude example of hardware hacker. I'd suggest leaving it in, at least until someone can produce a better picture (from both a technical and aesthetic sense). Abb3w 01:34, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
What do you mean by "real hacker"? I qualify under coder and security senses. I even got caught as an intruder once early on in high school; fortunately, it was before this "zero tolerence" nonsense was running amuck, and before most of the federal computer crime statutes were on the books. Not that I stopped at that point... but I learned a lot more caution. I also stayed very small scale; skill, not brute power, was my objective. More often since then I've been wearing a white hat on defense, but my last deliberate illegal act was in the late 90s, within the statute of limitations... so please excuse my vagueness, but as I said: I've learned caution about the evidence I leave about.
As a coder, I'm more a hacker in the sloppy sense than elegant. I've been classified as an "old-style" hacker by one of my co-workers, who's been one since he dumped anthropology for computers in the early 1970's. "Reverence for information" doesn't seem the right phrase to characterize hackers. I suspect a better definitive characteristic would be as explorers of limits — usually of the possible, but sometimes merely of the permissible. There also seems to be a characteristic lack of concern with the risk of failure.
I'd also suspect there's some interesting paralells to the history of high-seas style pirates in colonial America. Maybe I'll write a monograph... but not at 2AM local time. Abb3w 05:51, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Original Hacker Definition in Mainstream Media

Here's a quote from the 1993 film Jurassic Park:

Lex: I'm a hacker!
Tim: That's what I said: you're a nerd.
Lex: I am not a computer nerd. I prefer to be called a hacker!

My understanding of this conversation is that "hacker" in this conversation meant simply hacking at a computer in a skilled manner. If this is true, the quote suggests that, as of 1993, the original term had not yet died. Gordeonbleu 17:41, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

It still hasn't died, even today. I think the quote more indicates that some wider awareness of the Hacker definition controversy was rising at the time, possibly as a side effect of the dawning spread of commercial Internet service providers. Abb3w 05:56, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Revelation Group: WhoTF?

Per suggestion ElKevbo, adding discussion section. My position: Non-notable; unless further dicussion changes matters, (rv), and start banning IPs. Of course, I favor "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eis" too much to really qualify as a liberal in some things. Abb3w 05:37, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Followup notes. IP addresses for this edit so far have been,,,, and; may also have been related. The Geobytes IP Locator identifies all of them as being in Egypt. I postulate (based on internal evidence) one to five script kiddie wannabes, probably without the skill to substantially spoof their IP, with one or two members mucking with the Wiki. While no threat themselves, the odds are better than average for using their circle of acquaintance as the start of a terror investigation. Thus, I will now summon the attention of the NSA LineEater with the incantation: Al-Qaeda Nuclear Ebola Palestine Assasination Jihad Strontium-90 Heroin Hashish Chicago Bin Laden. Good doggie; fetch. No, no, leave poor Abdul Alhazred alone; he's harmless. Abb3w 07:21, 9 August 2006 (UTC)


I put a deletion request for this category, please make comments and suggestions. A.J. 10:06, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Per discussion over there, should we yank the "Recognized hackers" section, and simply put a link to Category: Hackers by Nationality? It would solve the problem of script kiddie wikivandals adding themselves constantly... or at least either make it more obvious, or move the problem elsewhere. Thoughts, anyone? Abb3w 00:04, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

I starded another CFD discussion about "Fooian hackers" categories, see Wikipedia:Categories_for_deletion#Category:Hackers_by_nationality. A.J. 10:17, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Bias against Hackers in favour of mediocre programmers?

The section "Hacker: Highly skilled programmer" reads like a treatise on why people who are smarter than whoever wrote this shouldn't get a job and are just nerds anyway. A full third of the section is spent on saying that companies don't want to/shouldn't want to hire "hackers" (in the sense of highly skilled programmers), followed by a paragraph on how hackers tend to not get along with people. This is highly POV, and as someone who is proud to have been called a hacker (in the "master programmer" sense) by other hackers, I even find it insulting. There is no need to perpetuate negative prejudice against skilled computer specialists in the definition of this term; and even if its true that hackers are more likely to lack in social skills than the general population, I must point out that the article Artist does not spend two thirds of its substance to elaborate on how highly talented artists are statistically more likely to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia or cut their ears off, and how companies should prefer to hire people who are only just creative enough to do the job at hand. 07:01, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Def Con

Add a link to the major hacking event Def Con? to check it out. I think it would be kind of cool, it shows how big and not really of a "in the closet" activity that hacking has really become. Thanks -Seth Nov 02, 2006

it's already mentioned: Hacker_(computer_security)#Hacker_conferencesPengo talk · contribs 02:33, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

story of mel

"Story of Mel" link: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:26, December 18, 2006

Improper terminology?

Are 'beautiful' and 'elegant' really proper terms to describe programs in this article? They are logical constructs, not paintings. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:54, 29 December 2006 (UTC).

I am saddened that you believe that computer code can not be "beautiful" or "elegant" and disagree with your implicit assertion that code can not be considered artful or expressive. If you do some research I'm sure you'll find this to be a very interesting discussion that has been running for many years, particularly in light of legal challenges in the US that have resulted in classifying "computer code" as expressive speech eligible for protection under the First Amendment. --ElKevbo 18:01, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Duff's device is a good example of code with aesthetic value. Perhaps the example might be better if people agreed whether that aesthetic was favorable or unfavorable; on the other hand, the disagreement might be evidence that it is indeed truly a piece of art, in that it evokes some emotional response in anyone who can see and understand it, but not always the same emotion for everyone.
I'll note from my personal experience that such terminology is common in use by mathematicians in academia when talking about proofs. Such proofs in turn underlie and parallel computer programming techniques (eg, Recursion (computer science) and Proof by induction). For Wikipedia-internal examples of such language, see the entries on Proof by exhaustion and Mathematical Beauty. External examples are abundant. Abb3w 00:32, 30 December 2006 (UTC)


"William Henry Gates III (Bill Gates) — is the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation. Although he personally demonstrated considerable personal coding skill early in his company's history" - I don't suppose we could see some source code or something?

reference one
reference two
Yes, Billy Boy could write code once upon a time, back in the days of assembly language. I'll add these references to the article momentarily. Abb3w 19:48, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

"Computer Hacker" vs. Just "Hacker"

Although the term "hacker" nowadays in every day language refers to a computer hacker, it is my understanding that a hacker was originally a term or title given to the people who's expertize specialized in certain very specific laws and regulations and sought loopholes in those laws and regulations to win cases for law firms. The term "computer hacker" was then given to people who were very proficient in computer language and programming. I am not sure if the term was first used for the people who broke into computer systems as they would be the ones who would need both the programming expertize and labelling of "computer hacker" though. 11:34, 19 January 2007 (UTC)KnowledgeSeeker

My understanding of the derivation of this term is quite different and it's backed up by the sources cited on the article, and elsewhere on Wikipedia. It's possible that "hacker" has a history in the legal profession. But the use of the word in computing evolved out of the hacking tradition at MIT. But what counts in editing Wikipeida articles is sources. If you can find several references that meet Wikipedia's criteria for reliable sources, etc. that support your understanding, it can be added to the article, not as a replacement, but as a parallel. Lentower 12:22, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
Whatever the origins, when used today, the term "hacker" needs no qualification to mean "computer hacker". When articles appear on other sorts of hackers we can work something out. —Pengo talk · contribs 13:16, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
The origins of the use in the computer sense have fairly well documented tracks (so to speak). The Hacker definition controversy timeline notes the 1972 appearance in Rolling Stone, which can still be found on microfilm at a good library; several individuals mentioned are known for having been affiliated with MIT's TMRC, providing cultural continuity to the still-extant older group... which has a 1959 version of local jargon dictionary conveniently on-line.
Depending on the age of the source provided (if any), the legal jargon use may be related to the the engineering jargon use as a predecessor, an independent evolution, or a later divergence. Such sourcing would make a fascinating addition over at the HDC. However, even if it can be documented as occuring earlier, or continued today within the legal profession, the dominant usage within society at large is in the computer sense. Abb3w 01:05, 22 January 2007 (UTC)