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2003 Mar 18 16:24

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Hacker vs. Cracker [Re: [vox] what do they pay their staff for?!?]
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Hacker vs. Cracker [Re: [vox] what do they pay their staff for?!?]

On Tue, Mar 18, 2003 at 01:44:48PM -0800, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> john,
> my apologies.
> i don't know how old you are, but back then, there was no distinctions.
> today's "cracker" was yesterday's "hacker".
> nobody ever asked me whether i wanted the word to change meaning.  i
> would've prefered if the revisionists would've chosen a word other than
> hacker to usurp.
> i'll try to change my lingo in the future.

FWIW, from the point of view of the "revisionists", they were the
"original" definition of hacker (the ones who coined the term at MIT,
and those who used it for the same meaning later on at Stanford). They
were before even your time, I believe. It was the folks who pretty
much exclusively broke into remote systems that "stole" the term, from
their point of view. Which is why that crowd coined the term
"cracker", to distinguish them from themselves. Since this has a very
large basis in truth, I really wouldn't call them revisionists. Rather
the other way around.

Naturally, it didn't work very well: the "original" hackers called the
others "crackers", and the term caught on amongst themselves. But only
amongst themselves; the other folks obviously saw no reason to change
what they'd been calling themselves, and of course as they'd been
calling themselves "hackers" for some time up to this point, and they
got much more media attention than the other sort, so did the rest of
the world.

What *really* doesn't help the "original" crowd is that the
distinction between them and "crackers" was never so black and white
as they might have hoped: even the original MIT computer hackers were
reknowned for their disregard of barriers and authority, and their
contempt of electronic and physical security systems alike (several of
the MIT folks learned their way around advanced locks, and took
advantage of this for pranks and such). But this didn't include
everyone. I figure that the "crackers" (who call themselves "hackers")
focus on that side of the "hacker" nature, with a heavy leaning toward
the less-than-benevolent aspects of the originals; and that those who
wish to label them "crackers", distressed with what the term has come
to represent, would choose to forget that there was any semblance of
truth to their claim to the name.

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