MIT Hackers

Steven Levy wrote a book entited Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution. It’s story of the computer gurus, the wizards who drove the burgeoning computer era. What really appeals to me is the humanity of the it. The people that spawned the computing age and the attitude of the hacker which is to know by tinkering. The hack was the expression of knowledge through finessing skills. In truth the original hacker community could be said to have started on campuses like MIT in the late 1950s. These were some of the few places with accessible machines like the IBM 704 with its punchcard reader and limited memory space. It was the attitude of open learning on the technology playground that spurned their group to explore the steam tunnels of the MIT campus underground following cabling and relays and ultimately finding ways to get access to the campus computing machinery.

Peter Samson, an original MIT hacker, wrote a poem about an attitude of hacking for the Tech Model Railroad Club:

Switch Thrower for the World,
Fuze Tester, Maker of Routes,
Player wit 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 lights bulbs under the lucite luring the sytem coolies…
Under the tower, dust all over teh place, hacking with bifurcated 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 teh switches, and under its control the advance around the layout,
Hacking!

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