Take_Away_Zone #1
February, 28th - March, 1st 2003
Take_Away_Zone #2

· Year Zero (!)

· 1967
PDP-10 - Hacker ethic - ARPAnet

· The 1970s
Community Memory Group - Felsenstein - Birth of computer underground - Blue Box and Apple

· The 1970s
The rise of Unix

· The 80s
Phrack - Free Software Foundation - 2600

· The 90s
The "hacker crackdown" and after - The Intel 386 chip - Linux - DeCSS

The following notes are a sort of basic "screenplay" for a history of hacking, a 3 decades long thread of facts and trends that drove the very history of computing and its relevance in the social arena.

0: Let's set a year zero. The beginning of it all. Any respectable History has one. Of course we all know that human history began far before this date, but somehow our ancestors felt the need to agree on some date to begin the counting of time.
The zero year in the history of hackers is 1961.

1961: The beginning of the hacker history can be dated to the year MIT bought the PDP-1, the first microcomputer byDigital Equipment Corporation's
The Signals and Power committee of MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club adopted the machine as their favorite

Being the access to the PDP-1 restricted by MIT regulations, and the eagerness of the TMRC kids to put their hands on the machine almost unbearable, some ways to gain access to the machine beyond the scheduled times were to be devised.

What might be called the first hack in the entire history was, in fact, the lock-hacking of the TMRC doors. Since the beginning, hacking has been about circumventing limitations that blocked the access to knowledge.


"S&P people were obsessed with the way The System worked, its increasing complexities, how any change you
made would affect other parts, and how you could put those relationships between the parts to optimal use. t was the S&P group who harbored the kind of restless curiosity which led them to root around campus buildings
in search of ways to get their hands on computers. They were lifelong disciples of a Hands-On Imperative."
Levy , Hackers

It can be argued that MIT's computer culture was the first to adopt the term "hacker.", meaning someone who could make good hacks.

Since the beginning, there was serious respect implied in the use of the word. An hack since the beginning had to be qualify with innovation, style, and technical virtuosity.

The most productive people working on Signals and Power called themselves "hackers" with great pride. This is how Peter Samson saw himself and his friends in a poem in the club newsletter:

"Switch Thrower for the World,
Fuze Tester, Maker of Routes,
Player with the Railroads and the System's Advance Chopper;
Grungy, hairy, sprawling,
Machine of the Point-Function Line-o-lite:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them; for I have seen
your painted light bulbs under the lucite luring
the system coolies . . .
Under the tower, dust all over the place, hacking with bifur-
cated springs . . .
Hacking even as an ignorant freshman acts who has never lost
occupancy and has dropped out
Hacking the M-Boards, for under its locks are the switches, and
under its control the advance around the layout,
Hacking the grungy, hairy, sprawling hacks of youth; uncabled,
frying diodes, proud to be Switch-thrower, Fuze-
tester, Maker of Routes, Player with Railroads,
and Advance Chopper to the System."

Dec's Pdp 1

It was in this first epic period of hackers's history that the traits of what has been later dubbed Hacker's ethic begin to shape.
The notion of a defined set of rules is to abscribed to the important storiographic work done by Steven Levy in his book Hackers, very much influenced by the ideas of Gnu and FSF founder Richard M. Stallman.

"Beneath their often unimposing exteriors, they were adventurers, visionaries, risk-takers, artists... and the ones who most clearly saw why the computer was a truly revolutionary tool"

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