TV, MOVIES and Corporate Media has Too Much Influence in Changing the Meanings of Words and Public Perception.
A hacker is someone who enjoys playful cleverness—not necessarily with computers.
The programmers in the old MIT free software community of the 1960s and 70s referred to themselves as “hackers”.
Around 1980, (clueless) journalists who discovered the hacker community mistakenly took the term to mean “security breaker.”
CIPHER and SECURITY:
Please don’t spread this mistake. People who break security are “crackers.”
As in CRACK that Safe’s Lock, and CRACK that secret intelligence agent’s encrypted cipher code-book.
The Early Hackers
The beginnings of the hacker culture as we know it today can be conveniently dated to 1961, the year MIT acquired the first PDP-1. The Signals and Power Committee of MIT’s Tech Model Railroad Club adopted the machine as their favorite tech-toy and invented programming tools, slang, and an entire surrounding culture that is still recognizably with us today. These early years have been examined in the first part of Steven Levy’s book Hackers http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/homesteading/hacker-history/ar01s08.html#Levy
MIT’s computer culture seems to have been the first to adopt the term `hacker’. The Tech Model Railroad Club’s hackers became the nucleus of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the world’s leading center of AI research into the early 1980s. Their influence was spread far wider after 1969, the first year of the ARPAnet.
ARPAnet’s electronic highways brought together hackers all over the U.S. in a critical mass; instead of remaining in isolated small groups each developing their own ephemeral local cultures, they discovered (or re-invented) themselves as a networked tribe.
The first intentional artifacts of the hacker culture—the first slang lists, the first satires, the first self-conscious discussions of the hacker ethic—all propagated on the ARPAnet in its early years. In particular, the first version of the Jargon File developed as a cross-net collaboration during 1973–1975. This slang dictionary became one of the culture’s defining documents. It was eventually published as “The Hacker’s Dictionary” in 1983; that first version is out of print, but a revised and expanded version is New Hacker’s Dictionary [Raymond].