A Brief History of Hackerdom

December 8, 2008

This chapter has the following contents:

Prologue: The Real Programmers
The Early Hackers
The Rise of Unix
The End of Elder Days
The Proprietary-Unix Era
The Early Free Unixes
The Great Web Explosion

“The `Real Programmer’ culture, though, was heavily associated with batch (and especially batch scientific) computing. It was eventually eclipsed by the rise of interactive computing, the universities, and the networks. These gave birth to another engineering tradition that, eventually, would evolve into today’s open-source hacker culture.”

It is good that the author was able to brought up the topic about ‘real programmers’. It is a term used by computer programmers to describe the archetypical ‘hardcore’ programmer.

A real programmer utilizes modern or graphical tools such as integrated development environments or languages other than assembly language or machine code in favor of more direct and efficient solutions – ‘closer to the hardware’.

The history of hacker culture were also highlighted in this chapter.

The Unix tradition is an implicit culture that has always carried with it more than just a bag of technical tricks. It transmits a set of values about beauty and good design; it has legends and folk heroes. Intertwined with the history of the Unix tradition is another implicit culture that is more difficult to label neatly.

It has its own values and legends and folk heroes, partly overlapping with those of the Unix tradition and partly derived from other sources. It has most often been called the “hacker culture”, and since 1998 has largely coincided with what the computer trade press calls “the open source movement”.

The relationships between the Unix tradition, the hacker culture, and the open-source movement are subtle and complex. They are not simplified by the fact that all three implicit cultures have frequently been expressed in the behaviors of the same human beings.

But since 1990 the story of Unix is largely the story of how the open-source hackers changed the rules and seized the initiative from the old-line proprietary Unix vendors. Therefore, the other half of the history behind today’s Unix is the history of the hackers.

It’s good to know that these ‘hackers’ were able to create their own culture. And speaking of the term ‘culture’, I would like to cite a quote from Tuesdays with Morrie.

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

What makes hackers stand as one is because of the collaboration – the participation of every programmer is their so-called community. If it wasn’t for the motivation and the conversation happening around them, this hacker subculture will not be created in the first place.


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