42.3.1. A Quick History of Hackers

42.3.1. A Quick History of Hackers

The modern meaning of the term hacker has origins dating back to the 1960s and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Tech Model Railroad Club, which designed train sets of large scale and intricate detail. Hacker was a name used for club members who discovered a clever trick or workaround for a problem.

The term hacker has since come to describe everything from computer buffs to gifted programmers. A common trait among most hackers is a willingness to explore in detail how computer systems and networks function with little or no outside motivation. Open source software developers often consider themselves and their colleagues to be hackers, and use the word as a term of respect.

Typically, hackers follow a form of the hacker ethic which dictates that the quest for information and expertise is essential, and that sharing this knowledge is the hackers duty to the community. During this quest for knowledge, some hackers enjoy the academic challenges of circumventing security controls on computer systems. For this reason, the press often uses the term hacker to describe those who illicitly access systems and networks with unscrupulous, malicious, or criminal intent. The more accurate term for this type of computer hacker is cracker — a term created by hackers in the mid-1980s to differentiate the two communities.


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