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25th Anniversary of Hackers 149

Posted by kdawson
from the glad-he-didn't-have-that-time-machine dept.
theodp writes "Sharks gotta swim; bats gotta fly; hackers gotta hack. On the 25th anniversary of Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, author Steven Levy has penned an interesting where-are-they-now follow up on the original digital revolutionaries for Wired. 'Some of my original subjects,' writes Levy, 'are now rich, famous, and powerful. They thrived in the movement's transition from insular subculture to multibillion-dollar industry, even if it meant rejecting some of the core hacker tenets. Others, unwilling or unable to adapt to a world that had discovered and exploited their passion — or else just unlucky — toiled in obscurity and fought to stave off bitterness. I also found a third group: the present-day heirs to the hacker legacy, who grew up in a world where commerce and hacking were never seen as opposing values. They are bringing their worldview into fertile new territories and, in doing so, are molding the future of the movement.' Here's hoping Google reads this and gets inspired to let Andy Hertzfeld ship whatever the hell he wants!" Glyn Moody pulls out one poignant detail from Levy's account: rms's thoughts of suicide.
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25th Anniversary of Hackers

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  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @03:36PM (#31914484) Journal

    They were often the same people, too, e.g. Woz was both varieties of hacker (which weren't that strongly differentiated anyway).

    That's true. Wozniac and Jobs got their start in the tech industry building and selling blue boxes. While neither one of them denies that, they generally don't make a point of bringing it up either. Of course, the devices hadn't yet been outlawed at that point.

    (For you youngsters out there, a blue box was a device that allowed you to control a telco's electronic long-distance circuit switches to your advantage.)

  • by Jorl17 (1716772) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @03:42PM (#31914544)
    And fortunately, you are not the only one. I may be against many of his arguments and crazy thought and I've personally changed emails with him trying to get some sense out of what he thinks, but I know that nearly everything I fight for in my town -- the Free Software Movement, Take 2 -- I owe to him. And if I'm asked who was the greatest & most important figure of our Software days, I'd gladly say that Stallman is the man. But, what the hell, I'm just a sixteen teen.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @04:27PM (#31915112) Journal

    Bill Gates didn't even write DOS. He bought it from some guy who had written it as a clone of CP/M. That's two degrees of separation from the actual innovation. The only noteworthy thing that Gates himself actually coded was Microsoft BASIC. Just goes to show that it doesn't matter what you know, or what you do, just what you're willing to do to get where you want to go.

  • I think that was actually pretty common in the 70s/80s hacking scene, though, so Woz isn't a huge outlier. A lot of people got interested in breaking security as a sort of puzzle-solving challenge. There was of course a vague sense of triumph over The Man, and thrill of breaking into an AT&T system or whatever, but there was still an ethos of not damaging the systems you broke into, not using them for stupid things like fraud, etc.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.

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