[originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe]
- A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable
systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most
users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.
- One who
programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys
programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
- A person capable of appreciating hack value.
- A person who is good at programming quickly.
- An expert at a particular program,
or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in `a Unix
hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who
fit them congregate.)
- An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One
might be an astronomy hacker, for example.
- One who enjoys the
intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing
- [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to
discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence `password
hacker', `network hacker'. The correct term for this sense is
The term `hacker' also tends to connote membership in the global
community defined by the net. For discussion of some of the basics of
this culture, see the
How To Become A Hacker
FAQ. It also implies that the person described
is seen to subscribe to some version of the hacker ethic.
It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe
oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an
elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new
members are gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego
satisfaction to be had in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if
you claim to be one and are not, you'll quickly be labeled
This term seems to have been first adopted as a badge in the 1960s
by the hacker culture surrounding TMRC and the MIT AI Lab. We have
a report that it was used in a sense close to this entry's by teenage
radio hams and electronics tinkerers in the mid-1950s.