When did the definition of “hacker” change?

I remember back in the day (you know, back when we were all using AOL) that the term “hacker” had a negative connotation.  It was reserved for those scary computer geniuses that wore the black hats and lived in secret IRC chat rooms located at the center of the Earth.

Today the term “hacker” is used to describe any and all programmers and/or developers who build web 2.0 applications, social networks and other ajax ridden crap.  The term has lost its original meaning.

Somewhere along the line – the word “hacker” went the way of the word “surfer” – it was taken over by the less deserving.

Just thought I would point it out.


3 Responses to “When did the definition of “hacker” change?”

  1. Neuromancer Says:

    Its going back to its roots origaionaly a “Hacker” was someone who did neat stuff with computers and other systems.

    “it was once a flattering label reserved for those who could appreciate, operate and program computers. References to hackers and hacking in the computer culture are thought to date from the 1960’s.”

    It then got the negative conotations – and “hackers” tried to popularise the term “Cracker”

    So its going full circle

  2. rkalajian Says:

    Actually the term Hacker used to be used to described people who “hacked” around with computers and machined to find out how they worked and to make them go above and beyond what they could do at the time. Eventually “Hacker” took on the name of those who performed nefarious deeds on computer systems.

    A book by the name of Hackers by Steven Levy is available still at Amazon which gives a good history of the term. A great read.


  3. Cam Says:

    Neuromancer nails it — being a hacker doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re as bad-ass black-hat type as the mainstream media would have you believe. See also the relevant Wikipedia entries…

    Hacker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker
    Cracker (computing): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_%28computing%29

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