From Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Stephen Levy. Anchor Press / Doubleday. New York, 1984.
The Hacker Ethic:
Access to computers -- and anything which might teach you something about the world works -- should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative!
Hackers believe that essential lessons can be learned about the systems -- about the world -- from taking things apart, seeing how they work, and using this knowledge to create new and even more interesting things. They resent any person, physical barrier, or law that tries to keep them from doing this.... Rules which prevent you from taking matters like that into your own hands are too ridiculous to even consider abiding by.... All information should be free. (27)
How could... anyone who hadn't been immersed in this uncharted man-machine universe -- understand how [Bob] Wagner and his fellow hackers were routinely using the computer to simulate, according to Wagner, "strange situations which one could scarcely envision otherwise"? (34)
Mistrust Authority -- Promote Decentralization.... No need to get a requisition form. Just a need to get something done. (28, 29)
Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.
You can create art and beauty on a computer. (30)
Computers can change your life for the better. (33)
Of all possible systems the phone system was admired most of all.... The motive was exploration, not fraud, and it was considered bad form to profit illegally from these weird connections. (38)
The man of the future. Hands on a keyboard, eyes on a CRT [Cathode Ray Tube], in touch with the body of information and thought that the world had been storing since history began. It would all be accessible to Computational Man. (55)
They formed an exclusively male culture. The sad fact is that there never really was a star-quality female hacker. (72)
[Phone signals] danced from one place on the MIT tie-line system to the next and then to the Hayes Observatory (connected to MIT's system), where they danced to an open line -- and, thus liberated, danced out into the world. There was no stopping them, because the particular tones which Stew Nelson had generated on the PDP-1 [machine] were the exact tones which the phone company used to send its internal calls around the world, and Stew Nelson knew that they would enable him to go all around the marvelous system which was the phone company -- without paying a penny. (81)
Nelson was displaying an extension of the Hacker Ethic -- if we all acted on our drive to discover, we'd discover more, produce more, be in control of more. (83)
The [MIT machine] time-sharing issue was an esthetic question. The very idea that you could not control the entire machine was disturbing [to hackers]. Even if the time-sharing system allowed the machine to respond to you in exactly the same way as it did in single-user mode, you would just know that it wasn't all yours. It would be like trying to make love to your wife, knowing she was simultaneously making love to six other people! (113)
The planners were concerned with applications -- using computers to go beyond computing, to create useful concepts and tools to benefit humanity. To the hackers, the system was an end in itself.... Systems are organic, living creations: if people stop working on them and improving them, they die. (117)
It was this unspoken boundary which came to bother hacker David Silver. He joined the lab as an adolescent and literally came to maturity there, and besides his productive hacking he spent time thinking about the relationship between hackers and computers. He came to be fascinated at how all of them got so attached to, so intimately connected with something as simple as the PDP-6. It was almost terrifying: thinking about this made David Silver wonder what it was that connected people together, how people found each other, why people got along.... The whole subject made him wonder on the one hand whether people were just fancy kinds of computers, or on the other hand whether they were images of God as a spirit. (125-126)
Stanford and other labs... became closer to each other when ARPA [Advanced Research Projects Agency] linked their computer systems through a communications network. This "ARPAnet" was very much influenced by the Hacker Ethic, in that among its values was the belief that systems should be decentralized, encourage exploration, and urge a free flow of information. From a computer at any "node" on the ARPAnet, you could work as if you were sitting at a terminal of a distant computer system.... People sent a tremendous volume of electronic mail to each other, swapped technical esoterica, collaborated on projects, played Adventure, formed close hacker friendships with people they hadn't met in person, and kept in contact with friends at places they'd previously hacked. The contact helped to normalize hackerism, so you could find hackers in Utah speaking in the peculiar jargon developed [at MIT]. (135)
Years earlier, Buckminster Fuller had developed the concept of synergy -- the collective power, more than the sum of the parts, that comes of people and / or phenomena working together in a system -- and [the Homebrew Computer Club in Northern California] was a textbook example of the concept at work. One person's idea would spark another person into embarking on a large project, and perhaps beginning a company to make a product based on that idea. Or, if someone came up with a clever hack to produce a random number generator on the Altair, he would give out the code so everyone could do it, and by the next [Club] meeting someone else would have devised a game that utilized the routine. (213)
The Hacker Ethic was changing, even as it spread throughout the country. Its emissaries were the small, low-cost computers sold by Apple, Radio Shack, Commodore (the PET), and Atari.... Many people who bought these new computers never bothered to join clubs. Instead they relied on computer stores, where they happily paid for programs.... These pioneering computer owners in the early eighties might learn enough about their machines to appreciate the beauty of an unencumbered flow of information, but the Hacker Ethic, microcomputer-style, no longer necessarily implied that information was free. (302)
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