Definition confirmation (please read)...

From: Aaron Christopher Finney <>
Date: Wed Aug 4 19:09:28 1999

Time marches on...

"The Cracker" that I was trying to remember is Bill Landreth, aka "The
Teenage Computer Wizard Who Was Apprehended by the FBI." And it wasn't
Compuserv, it was the GTE Telemail system. The book is called "Out of the
Inner Circle" by Mr. Landreth himself.

And yes, Steven Levy's book "Hackers" is what the MIT stuff that I wrote
about came from. I think we've talked about it on the list before, no? The
best argument for the "hackers use the good side of the force" crowd...

I know this isn't a sci-fi list, but Gibson's Neuromancer has had
something to do with shaping the public's image of what a "hacker"
is...Case, sending his neural essence through the global matrix to "hack"
systems...espionage, intrigue, dark, sinister...

All you have to do is read Slashdot or Wired news for a week and you'll
get overloaded by the hacker vs. cracker terminology war.


On Wed, 4 Aug 1999, Fred Cisin (XenoSoft) wrote:

> There never used to be any "argument".
> The term is NEUTRAL. There is no implication of criminal, nor "hero",
> merely an indication of expertise and temperament.
> The term "cracker" does not derive from any one individual's "handle", but
> merely referred to one who "cracked" security.
> But then, in the VERY recent past (what is now being called "years back"
> or "long ago"), the news media (a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be first
> against the wall when the revolution comes), first encountered pranksters,
> vandals, etc. getting involved with computers. The miscreants that they
> encountered called THEMSELVES "hackers", simply as a boastful
> self-appellation. The news people were simply too dumb to understand, or
> maybe assumed that the only possible outlet of genious would be criminal.
> People like Levy in his "Hackers" book tried to explain, but by 1984 it
> was too late.
> Note: the mafia call themselves "businessmen". Do we now associate
> the word "businessmen" with criminal behavior?
> --
> Grumpy Ol' Fred
> On Wed, 4 Aug 1999, Aaron Christopher Finney wrote:
> > Years back...
> >
> > I did a paper on "hackers" for a Computer Sociology class a few years ago.
> > In my research, I came across some really interesting articles that, even
> > in 1984 (when they were written), were arguing what the real definition of
> > "hacker" is. They described the early MIT "hackers", many of whom became
> > so wrapped up in their projects that they never bothered to fulfill their
> > degree requirements. And those who were breaking into sophisticated,
> > secure systems for the pure joy and challenge. And those committing all
> > kinds of crimes with their particularly malicious kind of genius. So
> > people didn't really know what a hacker was 15 years ago either.
> >
> > As I recall, the term "cracker" came from that guy who's name I never
> > remember (my mind is like a sieve) that used the handle "The Cracker" -
> > the one who broke into and then set up accounts and private forums on
> > systems for his buddies - on Compuserv, right? I can see the hands of half
> > the people reading this shooting up to shout his name...
> >
> > There's been a lot of PC-thug pressure to make "hacker" into some kind of
> > superhero working for the good of society and the pure love of computing
> > and make "cracker" into some kind of maniac bent on the senseless
> > destruction of innocent computers everywhere. Then the issue is clouded
> > further by other terms like script-kiddies, cypherpunks, etc.
Received on Wed Aug 04 1999 - 19:09:28 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:31:48 BST