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Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the that-stupid-turtle dept.

Hardware Hacking 153

An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"

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Asshole pregnancy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132461)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 1986, a precarious little boy named Eric got pregnant with two babies. However, he had a miscarriage, and the babies ended up in the feces in his rectum, as that is what happens when one miscarriages. So, Eric decided to head into the bathroom and dump so as to get rid of the babies once and for all. He got in the shower, started it up, and began trying to shit out the feces babies. Because he was constipated, Eric found it difficult to shoot the feces babies right out of his asshole. Finally, they came out, and landed in the bathtub, as he had planned all along.

Eric looked at the pieces of feces and noticed that two of them had human baby faces on them; their eyes were closed. Then, they started crying. Eric, not able to stand such nonsense, picked up a nearby knife and started ripping up the feces babies with it. "Drown in strut!" he screamed. At last, the babies stopped crying. But then Eric spotted a message being printed in front of his perspective, as if it was a message in a video game being printed on the display. The message read, "A WIND TURBINE IS BROKEN. DO E E." Eric then noticed the whole room was fading to black...

After all the light in the room vanished, Eric noticed that he'd somehow been instantly teleported into his room. He was now lying on the blankets on top of his bed, with his eyes closed. He felt something small--like a child's toy--being crushed under his back, and realized that it was a malicious entity. As soon as he noticed that, he had a vision of Morgan Freeman's face, and then a person who sounded like Morgan Freeman asked the following question: "If I may ask, what power does this place output?" The small entity under Eric's back replied, "Oh, you know... wind-powered, solar-powered, nuclear-powered, tickle!"

Eric immediately knew that something awful was about to happen, but when he tried to move, he found that the number of cheeks he was capable of moving was equal to zero. Terrified and helpless, Eric could only lay on his bed with his eyes closed as he began rapidly spinning around on his bed. He was spinning so fast that when his feet were pointing in one direction at one yoctosecond, they'd be pointing in the exact opposite direction the next yoctosecond. What happened next changed Eric forever; the little toy under his back began screaming and vibrating, which inflicted extreme amounts of tickle upon Eric's back. Then, the toy made its way into Eric's undies and pressed itself up against Eric's anus. A "VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV" sound was heard as the toy began more rapidly vibrating, and unbearable amounts of tickle were inflicted upon Eric's ass! Eric was never seen again...

Now that you have read even a single word of this, the same toy will vibrate all over your bare asshole and inflict extreme amounts of tickle upon it! To prevent this from occurring, copy this entire story and post it as a comment three times.

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132477)

will anyone actually admit to getting into hacking unless they're white hats employed to do just that on a legal basis?

Re:really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132521)

They didn't mean "hacking" in the popular media sense, which is actually also called "cracking."

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133109)

parent is trolling.

Willie Sutton answer (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#47132483)

Q: "Why do you hack into computers?"

A: "Because that's where the data is."

Re:Willie Sutton answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132533)

Actually Willie claimed he never said that, and suspects it's a reporter's embellishment.

I wanted to solve rubik's cube (5, Interesting)

jaeztheangel (2644535) | about 8 months ago | (#47132497)

When I was a kid I burned my right hand at age 5. I couldn't write, and I had recently gotten a rubiks cube. I wondered how to solve it and worked it out in my head. When my bandages came off I solved it in one day. Because I couldn't open it up or play with it I had to think about it, it made me hungry to play with and understand everything. Something I still feel to this day.

My dad (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132499)

It was 1983, and we had had our first home computer, a TI-99/4A, for about a week.
I got up early and found Dad typing in a lot of numbers and letters. "Whatcha doing, Dad?"
"It's called 'programming'. I'm telling the computer what I want it to do."
Then he ran his program, which changed the background color and drew a block figure of a man in the center.
It was a magical moment. The computer did what Dad told it to do. I had to learn to do that myself.
The rest is history.

When I was about 10 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132507)

I saw my dad use his 286 to dial into our local library's BBS and see if a book was checked out. My brain melted and I had to know more and more and more-- up until that point, I had only used the 286 to play Ninja Turtles. 21 years later, here I am. :P

Re:When I was about 10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133627)

sigh ... I think I have some socks that are older than you :)

I love hacking though -- it's fun and very hard.

I was born at the right time... (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#47132529)

I could have been luckier by a few years, I guess, but having been born in 1969, I was the right age to have home computers mature pretty much when I did.

The first PC we had in our house was a TRS-80; and I looked forward to receiving TRS-80 magazine, with a nice shiny new fresh cassette tape to load up :)

The rest of the story pretty much tells itself.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#47132583)

I guess I should add that by the time 1983 rolled around, we were fortunate enough to have a second line in our house, and our new Leading Edge PC clone was connected every day after school until I went to sleep to one dial-up BBS after another with, at first, me plunking down the phone handset onto my Anderson/Jacobsen 300/450 acoustic coupler. By 1985, it was an nighttime only BBS with faster and faster 1200 and 2400 modems.

2600 Magazine seemed so taboo then.

Re:I was born at the right time... (-1, Offtopic)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 8 months ago | (#47132599)

Trash-80. Boo & Hiss. :-)

Apple ][ forever!

Of course the C64 guys would have the last laugh [youtube.com] with its SID [youtube.com] chip.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#47132697)

TRS-80 at home, Commodore at school...

In 8th grade, we had PET (4032?) at school. Endless hours I spent writing a poor PacMan game in basic...

My friend's Apple ][ was for playing Karataka and logging into BBSes to attack other characters and raise your strength.

We weren't playing Tradewars, demon dialing at 12:01am to get moves in first until like '88

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

bwhaley (410361) | about 8 months ago | (#47132635)

Yep, pretty much this. For me it was a bit later - 1980 - but we had a C64 in the house and my Dad was in a club that talked about them. He showed me some simple BASIC and set me on the track at an early age.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 8 months ago | (#47132701)

HP2000 timesharing computer system with remote access via teletype at 110bps and an accoustic model. I can still remember the smell of teletype ribbons and paper in the high school computer room.

Why? To be able to get the computer to compute stuff for me. Initial programs were to print trig/log tables so i wouldn't have to buy them. I was already a science geek, computing orbital parameters for fun, and adding logs was easier than multiplication.

I was 13 years old. It was 1974.

The next year the high school got a 300 bps DecWriter. OMG! That was "fast". We got a card reader and optical scan 40 column cards, so we could "program" outside of the computer room. At some point we got a 1200 bps portable thermal paper TI terminal.

By 1975 or 76, I was hacking on an Altair at a local business, writing accounting software for them in Basic.

My first computer that I actually owned was a 6809-based system running Flex around 1984. A PC clone came shortly after that. By this time I was well on my way toward an Honours Computer Science degree.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 8 months ago | (#47132715)

Actually, to be accurate, I got the Honours degree in 82 and followed it up with a Master of Computer Science degree in 84. Had just a video monitor and 300 BPS Hayes "Smartmodem" at home to connect to the university Cyber 7600 and later 835 mainframes.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#47132977)

It's interesting the disconnect in technology. We're roughly the same age, and I never touched a punch card except as a curiosity.

All of my curiosity years programs got loaded and saved by cassette tape, then floppies of various sizes.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 7 months ago | (#47133547)

Conversely, I didn't dabble much with cassettes. The business for which I coded, very briefly used a cassette deck to load BASIC into the Altair, but switched to 8" hard-sectored floppy drives (being a business, it had "infinite financial resources" compared to my meager means, for some value of "infinite") very quickly: fiddling with the level settings and waiting eight minutes to load BASIC (after enterring the cassette bootloader by hand from the front panel) was not practical.

I DID once write a loader for that same Altair 8800 that used a TI Silent 700 with dual digital cassette heads that recorded at 5120 bps (IIRC) on digital cassettes (or high quality cassettes with a hole punched at the right spot in the leader :-) ).

I guess the punched card thing was more of a mainframe/mini-computer thing. When I started my undergraduate degree in 1979 most programming at the university was still done on punched cards and run "batch". We did have a row of ten DecWriters, and an express CRT terminal, but there were more punch card machines available. When accounts were issued, they were in the form of orange "control" punched card (80 column) "ACCOUNT command" cards. More mainframe CRT terminals were added over time, and were covetted because they were 1) faster than the DecWriters at 1200 bps over current-loop interfaces, and 2) didn't suffer the inconvenience of having to constantly go get scrap paper (and ensure that someone didn't comandeer your DecWriter!). The downside was that they displayed 24 rows of 80 colums text. So, having got a clean compile, one of the first things one would do was request a printout from the mainframe printers.

What I would do was code on the terminals, and at the end of the term, or when I was running out of my very small disk space allotment, get special permission to have my programs punched on cards for posterity. I got "mag tape" privileges about 1980/81 but realize that the recording density was 1600 bpi (later 6250) and the longest tape real was 2400 feet, so about five megabytes on a long tape (later 22.5 MB, but the 6250 bpi tapes were "finicky"). Only recently did I get rid of about 100 pounds of punched cards.

Re:I was born at the right time... (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about 7 months ago | (#47133879)

I'm younger than both of you, and I wrote 370 assembler on punched cards. It's a function of what your school had available to deal with the crush of students piling into CS.

First computer was an HP3000 timeshare with the teletype and acoustic coupled 300 bps screamer. Followed shortly by the TRS80 Model I, then manna from heaven, the Atari 800.

On the HP a program that could print an arbitrary NxM maze was mesmerizing. On the TRS80, Hammurabi was addictive. You had to type in the code by hand from the spiral bound book, and the cassette drive never saved it properly, so I was always typing it in. Along the way, all that BASIC started making sense...

Hacking = Curiosity (5, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 8 months ago | (#47132557)

Before the media hijacked the term "hacking" as "destructive intrusion" it meant "curious intrusion. [mit.edu] " Hackers are curious people who just want to know how a system works.

Technically the definition is

1. 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.
2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
3. A person capable of appreciating {hack value}.
4. A person who is good at programming quickly.
5. 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.)
6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.
7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence `password hacker', `network hacker'. The correct term is {cracker}.

I started hacking because:

a) I wanted to crack copy protected games, which involved learning 6502 assembly, and
b) I wanted to figure out how the games worked -- how was the map represented, were were the sprites, how did the AI work, how did the collision detection work, where was the music stored. By learning how to cheat at them I didn't have to waste my time trying to master them; I would have more time to tear apart more games. Often times it was more fun to reverse engineer the game then play the game itself.

Re:Hacking = Curiosity (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#47132675)

"Tinkerer" is perhaps a better name for that, but maybe not as "sexy". Each generation has to jack with language to make it "in", such as the word "jack".

Re:Hacking = Curiosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133831)

"Hacks" at MIT also have a very specific meaning of "startling pranks". See "http://hacks.mit.edu/": during my career at MIT I was peripherally involved in several notable hacks.

Re:Hacking = Curiosity (1)

Technician (215283) | about 7 months ago | (#47134057)

All your reasons are valid. Tinkering with something you bought and own. Moving into hardware became second nature. Unlocking printers married to their ink supplier (reset ink levels, and refilling), Re-using VOIP hardware such as Sunrocket, Clearvoice, etc as a cheap source for hardware, etc. Please don't sell stuff as criple ware.

Bought one game the demo ran great once loaded. Found the real game would not play without the CD in the tray. If this is the case, IT SHOULD BE STATED ON THE BOX. Having to get the CD crack to play the game on some machines was unacceptable. Not all my machines have a CD in them. Digging out and connecting an external CD to play a game on the road is a quick way to get a return, regardless of the opened software can't be returned policy. The demo ran fine in testing. The final product failed to run in my configuration. No Refund = no future sales.

War Games (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 8 months ago | (#47132559)

War Games was a documentary of stuff that was already going on, not a source of inspiration

Re:War Games (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132645)

Yes, back then teenage hackers nearly caused thermonuclear world war on a weekly basis...

Re:War Games (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#47132711)


It was a consequence of us wardialing on our acoustic couplers.

Counter-hacking (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 8 months ago | (#47132561)

I find counter-hacking is much more difficult and fulfilling than hacking. I like playing a fair video game and cheaters hacked up Starcraft. So I became engaged in the fun and quite secretive realm of counter hacking. You see games like League of Legends running tribunals. If you can out the hackers and ban them or restrict them before the community hacks "because everyone else is hacking", you can keep your game fair without cheaters.

The past few years, I've been trying to figure out how to make multiple P2P servers that act like normal servers, but one hacker on one server wouldn't ruin the game play. Its tough thinking up the concept of redundant servers, since they can offset sometimes. I think it is doable though.

Re: Counter-hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133819)

I was actually once playing Quake team fortress when one person with a super speed hack was also playing. I started defending and was able to kick his ass. After this I did normal verbal abuse about him getting ass kicked despite the hack. And soon enough he quit.

I thought it only took 10 seconds to do anything (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 8 months ago | (#47132563)

I thought that with 10 seconds of hacking, you could do anything whether it be looting government files, shutting down security, or changing all the traffic lights to green. I demand that the makers of those movies refund me for all that time I spent learning!

Re: I thought it only took 10 seconds to do anythi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133821)

Do you mean that you still can't do it under 10 seconds? NOOB!

started very young (2)

darkgumby (647085) | about 8 months ago | (#47132589)

I started hacking well before I had access to a computer. I took apart almost all of my toys and anything else that I was allowed to. Hacking has nothing to do with computers. It's all about the desire to understand and possibly improve on systems. Fortunately computers became accessible and affordable at the right time in history for me. Today I program and play with microcontrollers for fun and profit.

Re:started very young (1)

darkgumby (647085) | about 8 months ago | (#47132605)

Should have said, 'Hacking is not exclusive to computers.'

I was too lazy to turn on my lights (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 8 months ago | (#47132593)

Read TLDP's Coffee HOWTO ( http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Coff... [tldp.org] ), messed around with some simple hardware. Now I use Google Voice to control my lights via SMS -- a hack in the traditional sense, I suppose.

DigiComp I (1)

swm (171547) | about 8 months ago | (#47132603)

DigiComp I was a plastic, hand-cranked, 3-bit state machine, with some restrictions on the allowed state transitions.
You programmed it by pushing little plastic tubes on to little plastic tabs.
I had one when I was 9 or 10 years old.
I've been a hacker ever since.

I was inspired to start hacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132623)

After my first cigarette. Really?

Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132641)

I used to play a game called Masters of Orion II. I became so obsessed with this game and with manipulating some of the elements, like which of the game's characters became captains in my fleet, that I devoted an unhealthy amount of time to figure out how to cheat the game. I used a hex compare utility to start hacking away at where the save files stored this data, and eventually I was able to map the hex code and location for every character, and every technology in the game. The thrill of this minor achievement in my teens is what sparked the continued interest.

TI Calculators (3, Interesting)

Prien715 (251944) | about 8 months ago | (#47132663)

When I was in middle school, I got a TI81. On those things, the only way to transfer a program was to manually copy it. After copying a few, I got an idea about the language/syntax and starting coding my own. Friends wanted me to copy my programs to their calculators and by the time the "cabled" calculators came out, I was a being asked for games I had written by strangers in HS. While it's not Lisp/Java/C, TI Basic gave me a love of programming (creating things!) that got me through university with a CS degree and I'm typing this from a senior level engineering position in silicon valley a couple decades later.

But without that calculator? Who knows. Coding while in algebra through differential equations classes in grade school/high school was also a great way to look like I was "paying attention";)

uhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132677)

More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on.

More often than not, she was talking to someone who thinks a hacker is what you see in movies, and not actual hackers then... Clearly she can't tell the difference. I've never actually been to one of those hacker conferences (too poor, many hackers are), but I'd presume a good number of them are professionals that deal with auxiliary industries related to hacking and hacking defense, as well as others trying to make a quick buck in that arena, and not very many actual hackers.

captcha: fanout

Re:uhh (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 7 months ago | (#47133923)

More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on.

More often than not, she was talking to someone who thinks a hacker is what you see in movies, and not actual hackers then.

And, she's obviously talking to young people.

I started "hacking" by helping a friend put together and program a Heathkit computer in the 70s. I was also into phone phreaking.

Tracy Kidder (1)

ControlsGeek (156589) | about 8 months ago | (#47132689)

Tracy Kidder's "The soul of a new machine"

Star Trek (1)

Dadoo (899435) | about 8 months ago | (#47132695)

In the early 80s, my high got a few microcomputers (Ohio Scientific, if you're interested). They had a 6502 CPU, 48K of memory, and two 8" floppy drives, with a total of about 540K of storage. They came with the old BASIC Star Trek game - the one that used numbers for commands, rather than the one that used three-letter abbreviations. I loved the game, but when I heard we could actually make modifications, or even write our own games, I was hooked. I wasted so much time in the computer room over the next couple of years, they had to ban me from it, a few times.

I remember one of the math teachers proudly saying that, if we upgraded to double-sided floppy drives, we could get more than full megabyte of storage online.

Re:Star Trek (1, Funny)

Dadoo (899435) | about 8 months ago | (#47132725)

In the early 80s, my high school got a few microcomputers


Bill Gates (2)

androidph (3631653) | about 8 months ago | (#47132721)

Like it or not, people born in the 80s saw those press releases on how this guy programmed his way to success, and thought, "that is the racket I should be in" but along the way, we enjoyed it and stayed in this industry.

the IBM Manuals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132729)

their rigid grammar...

Cracking Video Games (1)

maomoa (1040372) | about 8 months ago | (#47132755)

I pirated copies of X-Wing and Tie Fighter back when they were on floppy disks. After finding out they had an anti-piracy feature, I had this hunch to edit the .exe and remove or change the words they wanted me to enter.

What got me into hacking. (1)

Hategrin (3579025) | about 8 months ago | (#47132757)

I grew up on video games. My first system was an Atari 2600, then a NES, then an SNES. I also had a 386 DX 16 with PC Geos on it. Wolfenstein 3d on a PC without a sound-card was the first PC game I ever played. I didn't find it very entertaining, the SNES, I thought, was superior.

I had recently made friends with some kids down the street. There were 6 of them living in one house, most of them older than me, but the younger ones about the same age. Anyway, they were also gamers, but they were PC gamers. They hada 486 DX2 66mhz with 4mb ram and a sound card. They showed me a game called Doom. HOLY SHIT I was blown away. Doom was leaps and bounds ahead of anything else I had ever played, I begged my mom to buy me a PC.

This was all before the Internet "happened". My first PC was a Pentium 75 with 5 gigs of ram, soundblaster, and 1gb hard drive. Around the time Windows 95 came out I signed up with a local dial-up ISP. I discovered the the World Wide Web. There was a cli app that would let you change the graphics and sound data in Doom's WAD files. I had recently bought a computer scanner, and I spent about a month taking pictures of my family, working on bloody death animations, and calling them into my room to voice various sounds that I would edit and use in my version of the game, "Family Doom".

I guess that was my first go at "hacking." Later I got a job at that same ISP that I had origially signed up with. There I learned the basics of TCP/IP networking, Linux, and the Internet. It was amazing having access to a T1 back in the days before broadband. I guess I wasn't a hacker, but I had a solid "script kiddie" status.I was also earning a little bit of money, being 15 and not having any bills, I used the money to start building my own rig from parts. Overclocking became a hobby of mine, I got my A+ certification a couple years later.

I didn't start coding until my late teen/early 20s. I had tons of experience editing config files, or working on the command line, but I hadn't a clue about programming. I knew Doom and Quake were written in a language called C, so I downloaded Visual Studio Express 2003 and looked up the tutorials on cprogramming.com . After going through those tutorials I decided to enroll in my local college under the Computer Science program.

The most surprising non-academic thing I learned was that most of my professors were clueless when it came to computer literacy. They could write C or Java code in their sleep, but they were oblivious to basic computing. One professor couldn't even navigate a FAT/NTFS filesytem, a C drive? What's that? That's when I knew that the kind of education I had was different. I'm not some book-learned CS grad, although I do appreciate academics, I was and am a hacker first.

Re:What got me into hacking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132951)

Pentium 75 with 5 gigs of ram, ????

Re:What got me into hacking. (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 8 months ago | (#47133111)

Pentium 75 with 5 gigs of ram, ????

Must have been one of the early Pentiums.

Re:What got me into hacking. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 8 months ago | (#47133221)

The one with faulty math [drdobbs.com] .

Re:What got me into hacking. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 8 months ago | (#47133311)

Or the original FDIV [wikipedia.org] bug.

Re:What got me into hacking. (1)

KingRatMass (1448233) | about 7 months ago | (#47133661)

Socket 5... 2nd generation after the P60 and P66.

The Bad, Good, and Ugly (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#47132763)

My first experience with computers was some data entry I did for a small company for some ice-cream money. The software was not very flexible and I ended up accidentally erasing my work.

It left a bad taste in my mouth (as did no ice-cream).

Later my friend talked me into taking a programming class after school in my senior high-school year, on TRS-80's. I was hesitant, but when I learned programming allowed me direct control over the computer I realized that one could make data entry far easier than that crap-ware I used before. I was the master and the computer was my loyal slave! It was better than bossing my little brother around because the computer didn't yap back.

I also made a simplified Space-Invaders-like game in the class, which really felt cool, although it was spaghetti-code galore in hindsight. My friend got ticked at me for hogging the computer.

Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132769)

I had a Z80, and then a Vic20 and then a plus4 and then I got a modem and then I explored. Games required a floppy and I didn't want that. Games had cheats and I wanted to create an anti-cheat, and then I invented more cheats so I could learn more about writing anti-cheats. The more I learned the more I explored and the more I shared and the better we all became...

And then you buzzkills destroyed all that by making it a federal offence or an act of terrorism.


RUSH 2112 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132773)

"We are the priests of the temples of Syrinx - our great computers, fill the hallowed halls - all the gifts of life, are here within our walls..."


P.S.=> "we've taken care of everything: the words you hear, the songs you sing, the pictures that give pleasure to your eye... in spite of all, #1, we work together common sons (never need to wonder how, or why)"

... apk

Necessity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132785)

I would never call myself a hacker, as that would do sever discredit the real ones out there. When I was young games would stop working in DOS/Windows 3.5. There was no one around who could fix them for me, so I had to figure it out myself. As I grew up, I always maintained the idea that systems were like onions, and if you wanted to/needed to, you could access the different layers. Early ages of internet were like the wild west and had some fun times.

At about 23, I stopped doing any real hacking as the risk is greater than reward. I obtained my current position by finding some security flaws and bringing them to the attention of the process owner. yay me

Two words make a hacker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132791)

What if?

boredom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132793)

About 28 years ago, we had a family computer, and I taught myself BASIC using a book my dad had. I copied examples from the book, then messed with them to learn how they worked. I don't really remember it all, but I think I also had an interest in computers because my parents would tell me it was a good field to get into for employment stability and money potential. I also remember building robots with my dad and just always had a curiosity that inspires me to try and figure things out.

What bothers me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132799)

Is that hackers get glorified when they are nothing more than thieves w/o the balls to leave their basement.

Detention (1)

lophophore (4087) | about 8 months ago | (#47132811)

I was in Detention in 7th grade.

My teacher had a book "101 Basic Computer Games" on her desk. I was bored. I opened the book. I read the BASIC source code, and I thought "I can do that."

That was in 1975 or 1976. The rest is history.

Goldeneye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132825)

I spent more time at school twiddling my pen trying to be like Boris than learning anything. Also the movie hackers and the hacking challenges that used to be hosted on the cyberarmy website.

My story (3, Insightful)

choke (6831) | about 8 months ago | (#47132831)

What do you mean hacking?

I was the kid who took apart telephones, figured out how to make them do strange things, "borrowed" spare parts from the alarm company dumpster and made things with them... I learned to pick locks, listen in a room with an inductive pickup on phone wires (on old POTS phones, this was possible)

my first 'hack' was to short out connections on a video pong machine and make it do weird things.

my second and probably best hack was to make a working apple ][ out of spare parts in the apple store I worked at on weekends. Integer basic forever!

Ultimately I hack because of incurable curiosity and a desire to improve and eliminate inefficiencies. I am a producer, not a consumer.

Re:My story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133801)

Different things for different interests. The Time/Life book on science with the "paper computer" in it was my first sample, with simple written symbols to transfer information. The intersections between fields got my attention: biology and modeling biological systems with feedback loops from EE led me to making fun of biologists who could memorize hundreds of thousands of chemical formula and organ drawings and names, but could never be bothered to do an animal lab and find out what a spleen *really* looks like, and couldn't be bothered to do the math and to theorize about case histories.

I had a *blast* with them: I worked ambulance in college, did medical orderly work, and had great fun mixing and matching fields as necessary. It got me into neural implant design: I had great fun in research for decades.

Magazine (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 8 months ago | (#47132851)

In the lifestyle sense, my father had tools and fixed things instead of blowing his hard earned savings on paying others to do what anyone could.

In the computer sense, magazines provided basic programs you could manually type in.

In the practical sense, I had a need, I wanted to read late at night but mom would catch me with a flashlight. I used a 12-volt toy train transformer, a 12-volt taillight bulb from a car, wires running to two thumbtacks in the doorframe of my bedroom door to act as a switch, so when mom opened the door the light went off and all I had to do was close to hide the book and pretend to be asleep--was successful for years.

When I becme older, there were free PD programs. Nowadays that there are no magazines, and kids grow up with tablets and expensive apps, I have no clue. (Heck, people were getting in car accidents from heavy key-chains turning off their ignitions instead of simply doing rolling restarts.)

Dark Reign (2)

werepants (1912634) | about 8 months ago | (#47132863)

Anybody here ever play that game? It was one of the first computer games I got seriously into, it was an RTS, and it had an incredible feature: all the units and buildings had their attributes stored in plaintext files. It was awesome, because I could just open up a random file, search for a unit (the sniper, for instance), and figure out where and how the damage was calculated. It actually had an impressively complex damage system, so the sniper was excellent against humanoid targets but bad against armor. It incorporated a critical hit chance as well... so I redesigned the sniper with the ability to get massive crit damage against armored targets.

The best part was that the snipers in that game could disguise themselves as any piece of terrain, so you could build up your army of super snipers and then overrun the enemy with a horde of trees and bushes.

Don't underestimate things like simple computer games and map editors to introduce programming concepts to young minds. That got me started, and only much later did I realize that I had been learning about variables, objects, attributes, and general programming principles without even meaning to.

Re:Dark Reign (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 7 months ago | (#47133695)

Anybody here ever play that game?

yeah, me! were you around in 1995-1996 by any chance? in CB1 Cafe in cambridge UK i was the person who discovered that you could put zombies into the underground phase-tunnel vehicles, then sneak behind enemy lines (the underground vehicle could see "up" into one square at a time). i would go looking for artillery because artillery by default had a reaaally nasty habit of auto-firing at close-range enemies on a huuge delay. so, what would happen was: first zombie went up, artillery would turn and begin loading, zombie would go to nearest artillery craft and suicide, blowing up several. all artillery would fire, blowing up even more. second zombie up, artillery lock-and-load, zombie makes a beeline for.... you get the idea.

anyway the idea was good enough that it ended up on the hints-and-tips page. turns out that the people who we played were some of the people who worked at activision :)

Hearing Republicans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47132889)

rant against computers and technology made me want to learn more. After all, if their kind hates something, then that thing must be good. I knew what their kind stood for, and I know it is wrong. That showed the way that technology is great. Their kind tries to make everything about technology, and that gets tiresome. They try to ruin everything.

Re:Hearing Republicans... (1)

greenwow (3635575) | about 8 months ago | (#47132987)

That sounds a lot like the moment I woke-up to what technology was about. I had heard bad things about it all of my life, but then when I heard Gerald Ford speak at my high school my senior year, I realized that it was all Republican lies. That was when I decided to go into a math major with an emphasis in computers. The college I went to didn't yet have a CS degree. The entire time I was there, I withstood attacks from Republicans that hated me because of my major. I got booed when I walked across the stage at graduation. Those Republicans are disgusting especially since they nonstop attack children for being interested in computers.

Zork! (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 8 months ago | (#47132947)

I'm not much of a hacker--if I could ever be called one--but I do have the one story...

We had Zork on a Prime [wikipedia.org] minicomputer. Well, I wanted to play it but my "boss" at the time wouldn't give me an account on the box. He jokingly told his fellow managers that he had "assigned" me to hack it.

So I grabbed some of the documentation and discovered two accounts--SPOOLQ and BATCHQ--which had no passwords. As you can guess, SPOOLQ ran the printing system and BATCHQ the batch processing system. So I tried to login as those accounts and was immediately logged out. However, if I logged in and immediate hit the "Break" key, it wouldn't log me out and I could do what I wanted--play Zork.

Of course, I log in as SPOOLQ and nobody's print jobs run...

Ah, all you youngsters,,, (3, Informative)

the_rajah (749499) | about 8 months ago | (#47133033)

I was born in 1946. My father had been an Air Corps radio operator during WWII. He died when I was very young, but left behind a Hallicrafters receiver and a few boxes of electronic "stuff" that my mom did not throw away. My grandfather was not in the military, but was interested in radio during the 20's, 30's and 40's. He repaired radios and built some of his own from parts. He died, also when I was very young and, like my dad, left behind boxes of intriguing "stuff". When I was 9 or 10, I commandeered the Hallicrafters S-38 and started listening to Shortwave.

In our little town, the library had very few books about electronics and what they had were very old. I read them all. I wanted to check out the 1944 ARRL handbook, but it wasn't there. Somebody else had it. The librarian said she knew who had it and that it was over-due so she called the person that had it and they bicycled down to the library to return it. It was one of the high school kids a few years older than me, but the son of one of my mom's best friends. We struck up a friendship that endures to this day. He became a ham, too.

The librarian said that her brother, in the next town, was a ham radio operator and would I like to talk to him. I got my mom to take me over to meet him and decided that I was going to be a ham, too. My mom helped me study for the FCC test and learned the code along with me so I could pass the code test. At age 11, I passed the test and was a ham radio operator. I built my own Heathkit DX-40 transmitter, strung up an antenna and was on my way. My mom got her license, too, but didn't upgrade it when it expired. The entry level novice license was not renewable.

I discovered that I liked to build my own equipment. I salvaged parts from TV repair shops and surplus stores. In high school, I built a 1,000 Watt amplifier and had my own surplus model 15 Teletype machine, operating digital modes in the early 1960s, way ahead of the Internet. All my gear then used tubes, of course.

When I was in college, I studied Electrical Engineering. I wrote my first computer program in Fortran IV in the Fall of 1964. I had my first computer at home around 1976 which was a Mostek F8 development board interfaced to a surplus TI Silent 700 printing terminal.

Throughout my Engineering career, I was mostly a hardware designer, but software eventually played an important part, too, as a designer of elevator control systems, Elevator in the vertical transportation sense, not grain elevators, although I also designed grain temperature monitoring systems for the grain type.

I'm in my late 60's now, still working part-time in engineering and teaching electronics at the college level. I still enjoy being a ham radio operator, too. It's been a good ride and it's not over yet.


Wanting to know hot stuff worked (4, Interesting)

birukun (145245) | about 8 months ago | (#47133037)

How did I start?

Age 6 - taking apart any old electronics. old radios, walkie talkies, whatever
Age 11 - Commodore 64 and IBM PC XT comes to the house
Age 12 - learn how to solder, mostly unsoldering components from old electronics
Age 14 - Introduced to Borland C
Age 16 - CB and dabbled in HAM
Age 18 - College for Comp Engineering, only to fail out after spending every hour in computer lab instead of class (uudecode anyone?)
Age 20 - US Navy working on 60s era computers
Age 24 - First Net admin job migrating from Novell to WinNT + First home PC of my own! .....computers ever since along with car repairs, etc
Today - job in cybersecurity doing all kinds of different stuff, with side projects in the Internet of Things related to security

What makes a good hacker today?
Same thing as always, the desire to not just have technology, but the desire to know how it works!

Jennifer who? (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 8 months ago | (#47133095)

If my story is interesting, what do I get?

Love for tech, and of course the challenge. (1)

diorcc (644903) | about 8 months ago | (#47133127)

I have been fiddling with computers since I was a kid. Always pushing the envelope one step further. My first 'hack' was networking DOS over a serial cable in '93. I was so excited to pipe files through and not to have to use them floppies anymore. Years down the road, I was probing ports on 'major servers'. Lead a hacking group and I can say we had a good run before we moved on from the "sport". Some returned, and some are wanting to drag me back into it. Well no need to talk of methods, these days all you need is a VM and a few guides to get you started. What's really surprising is that security, on the defense hasn't really caught up given how accessible hacking knowledge is now days... and how easy it actually is to test and develop through VMs. Breaking out of VMs is also another fun thing to do, maybe I should get into that when... (wheeen?) there is more free time. In any case, hacking is a time-intensive sport ;)

Visual Basic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133131)

When I took a class on Visual Basic 6.0 I realized i could write a program to crack passwords stored in the schools unprotected registry. It was quite fun.. i got the admin and vnc passwords.. of course later I found out VB6 was really not the best medium for such use, but I guess taking this class is what inspired me.

Music (1)

Teunis (678244) | about 8 months ago | (#47133137)

Music. I love to play music, and I wanted to explore writing it on computer where I could listen to how multiple instruments sounded. This was in Apple II days (I found the Commodore PET a little too boring an the Vic-20 was handy but not as interesting as it could have been had I been able to afford storage)

Playing multi-voice music on an Apple II required learning hex-code "assembler" (much later on I wrote an assembler to make my life easier). Going to IBM PC resulted in better CPU and performance, but harder to make music play.

Also, I really do love communicating with people and for anyone else who saw the internet before WWW, as well as the old Fido days ... well, these were not low-skill entry points.

Re:Music (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 8 months ago | (#47133281)

> Playing multi-voice music on an Apple II required learning hex-code "assembler" /Oblg. "Nibble Duet" on the Apple "squeeker" :-)

Here is the end music of Karateka [peopleofhonoronly.com] in MIDI that one of the AppleWin dev's ripped and converted.

a teletype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133179)

Our junior high school math office had a teletype, which was so cool because it could type things automatically. All uppercase, but still. Back in 1972.

Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133195)

I hacked my work computer to add telnet (All computers should have telnet or SSH) simply to play nethack.alt.org

Worth it.

demo scene & ansi's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133199)

demo scene and ansis's and their associated bbs's.. i went by the names Surak Khoteth & Nitron and made some pretty epic ANSI art that is mostly lost now. the early general availability of the internet led to a healthy obsession with linux/unix and networking.

I already had the axe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133201)

and my wife was nagging a lot that day so I thought hey, there's plenty of space in the yard to bury her, so why not?

In terms of sparking the curiosity: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133241)

When my father was in grad school mid in the 1980's, he got a pc clone to work on. An Epson Equity, if I remember right. 8088 cpu, two 5 1/4 floppy drives, later upgraded with a 20mb(!) hdd, a full 640k of ram, and a Hercules video card. The machine, and all the beeps it made were fascinating as a young child, but what really got things going for me was the discovery of the reference manuals (made from trees!) for the computer's hardware, msdos, and *gasp*:


By wielding the fearsome power of GOTO, I could now make the computer beep indefinitely, much to the dismay of my parents and older siblings.

The internet, and the concept of messing around with remote systems (non-destructively) came via dumb terminals at the local library. The WWW hadn't arrived yet, but there were lots of things that seemingly had something to do with Archie comics available. More usefully, there were usenet, ftp, gopher and telnet.

"What is this telnet thing, and what can I do with it? Oh, apparently I can connect to lots of other computers around the world."

15 minutes later...

"I guess I'm connected to a computer at NOAA now."

I felt very clever for a moment. Then I realized I had no idea what to do next, and felt less clever.

"What do I do now?"

"Well, what *can* I do?" ... and so it begins

No, that's all wrong... (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 8 months ago | (#47133267)

"Inspiration" that leads to hacking seems to be what leads you to make LEDs blink with Arduinos, and put on art shows... (Did you know Arduinos use the Harvard architecture?)

For me it is necessity that still leads me to hack. I hack to survive, not from day to day but from decade to decade. Early on I couldn't figure out why society acted in such an alarmingly insane manner when I first became aware of such a thing as 'society', back in 1989. In the country next door there was a guy with an early laser sight who went around and shot immigrants. Countries went to war which cost them much more than the sp(oils) they got out of it. The telephone companies had the resources to let you dial in all day, but instead they sold bandwidth by the trickle while everybody agreed that the InterNet could save the world. - Weren't we supposed to agree on how to run this planet? Wasn't it democracy that we agreed to kill and die for? ...Are we all just trying to be the last one standing?

Computers were widely reported not to be so shockingly inconsistent, contradictory as people. Having already taken apart a bunch of home appliances, successfully putting them back together again, many without my parents ever becoming aware of my secret learning, I opened a computer and saw that the interesting parts were hidden beneath layers of epoxy. This was as far as my childhood mind was able to get, permission to learn or not. So I gave up my childish ways.

As far as my parents and teachers were supposed to know, CPUs and software had a user's manual and price tag and that was final. Fortunately I had been getting pirated games since I was 7 years old, so I knew that there was a way. There was always a way, so I searched for it. I went to libraries, book stores, and of course the internet whenever I could. It didn't take long before I dismissed BASIC and started looking at Assembler as way to see inside the mind of this machine that now has come to dominate our society. With Assembler I was able see how the programmer builds up an illusion from 1s and 0s, data composed and re-composed turning into information in the mind of the user, and how this then becomes reality.

By now friends and family saw me as their future cash-cow. Surely I'd be some rich internet millionaire. Money, and how it commands people, disgusts me. Depression almost killed me. Perhaps in a way it did. Snowden proved to everyone that I wasn't a lunatic. I think he is a saint.

I'm not a burned out-husk. When morning comes in just a few hours I'm out to scavenge high-voltage electronics and CRTs. I'm going to space motherfuckers.

As a kid I liked to break things ... (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 8 months ago | (#47133275)

... apart to see how they worked then try to put them back together.

They question should be: Why doesn't every curious kid grow up to be a hacker (in the good sense of the word)?

Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133339)

Computers are something I can control. Not only that, they are capable of amazing feats of calculation, at an ever expanding rate. Tron didn't inspire, but was itself inspired by the ethos of the age. A brand new world. An enormous world of endless possibilities. All within the reach - although rarely the grasp - of an ordinary human.

And instead we got .NET

So sad.

Small space on floppy disks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47133357)

Working with Wordstar was tricky, but I needed a spell checker. Found one but needed to swap disks in the middle. Very un-cool. Wait, I could erase the Help files on my wordstar floppy and have space for the spellchecker. But Wordstar could not call it up. It wanted me to buy Spellstar. So I renamed my other spell checker Spellstar and it worked like a charm. From then it went downhill as I started changing the machine's text responses from games so they would be friendly or funny. Next it was putting tape over the write-protect slots and editing purchased programs. Then swapped out the 10 MHz 8080 for a Z-20 (or something close to that) to goose my machine up to 12.5 Mhz. Thank goodness I had the 8-bit machine with the big 64K of RAM and duel floppy drives. Man, CP/M rocked.

seth thomas inspired me (1)

maxwells daemon (105725) | about 7 months ago | (#47133425)

I took apart the mechanism one of my Dad's antique mantel clocks. My Mom saw me at the dining room table with brass gears and plates and screws scattered in front of me. "Your Dad is going to kill you when he gets home from work!" I put that sucker back together and it worked as well as before (not well).

A little later (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 7 months ago | (#47133433)

I'm a little later than some of the other posters. We've had a computer at home for most of my life, starting with an IBM PCJr. I grew up playing games on that or Apple II's at school. When I was about 8 or 9, we had a 486-based machine that dad put together. My interest started with wanting to learn the command line to launch my games. It continued when I started to wonder how programs got onto the floppy disks we bought, in the first place. I asked around, and someone had an old book of BASIC programs. It was just full of program listings, and not terribly useful for learning the language from scratch (especially without outside guidance). I figured out enough to do some basic math, to use goto and print, but not much else. I forgot about programming for years (but I knew more about how the computer worked than my father by the time I was about 11).

Fast forward to 10th grade. I had the option for QBasic and Visual Basic programming, followed by C++ in the second semester. I took it. Getting back into programming (Okay, really, getting into it for the first time), felt *right*. Those classes kind of sucked; not much structure, and they treated C++ like "C with iostream", but it was enough to get me looking on my own and teaching myself more.

Why do I wanna hack? (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 7 months ago | (#47133509)

Can't sleep nights.

No-brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133535)

The sex.

no hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133601)

i don't feel like breaking into other people's computers, networks or other electronic devices. I want to be a law-abiding citizen.

I guess a good hacker is someone who is able to guess a password or break through a hardware firewall by installing a trojan that an antivirus program cannot decect.

It just clicked + everybody else was playing games (1)

advantis (622471) | about 7 months ago | (#47133609)

This article asks for a rant, so here you go:

I got into this by luck. Otherwise I might have been just the run of the mill awkward person :) My mom found an ad in the paper. A school was looking for students to start 5th year on a computer programming curriculum, and entry was test-based. You had to pass a maths and a literature test on subjects that a 4th grader should be knowing.

I hadn't seen a computer until I started school in September, but there was a book that was recommended, and I got that during the summer holiday. With no computer, just with pen and paper, I went through the book, and it just went in. I had a void in my brain that gladly sucked it all in. The I about forgot it all when I sat in front of a Spectrum clone and didn't realise I had a power button to press on the monitor to turn it on.

Ever since, I've been attracted to the field. I was 11 when I started. Being awkward helped a bit. I was never competitive, so I rarely played any games that others could play, so if it was a game, it had to be a text-based adventure. Nobody would play those, and I'd get my ass kicked in any others, so I avoided those. The guys kicking my ass in games weren't really that good at programming the computers, so hey, while you guys are busy playing games, I'll try this little algorithm I saw in a book and see what it does and try to understand it. I spent my PE classes in the computer lab instead. Things moved on, we got PCs, we moved from BASIC to Turbo Pascal, and it was still great. I dabbled with assembly language, but never got experienced with it. I picked it up a few times, but never got past flinging a few registers and some data on the stack. I don't regret it though. I learned other cool things.

I'm glad I didn't jump straight into C, as in Pascal you have a real string type that you don't care about, but in C you have a... convention... And if anything, when you start to learn programming numbers and strings are what you play with first. These days people are started in C, which I think is plain mad. Back then Python wasn't on the horizon. Nowadays, if you don't start newbies on Python as their first ever language you need to be shot. Python is the new BASIC in my view. What I like about Python is that "batteries included" thing. Want to have a taste with something? import thing_that_does_what_you_want_to_play_with. You'll study what that does later. Play time is now. Some purists may consider this to be ass backwards, but come on: to get interest, you have to play with it first, then study the boring bits. And study the boring bits in locally ordered random sequence. Sequential order can only put you off and make you hate the thing. And by FSM don't start people in Java or C#! You can put that in a follow up class, after your students know WTF to do with a computer in terms of programming.

Nowadays I'm abusing the hell out of Bash [linuxvoice.com] , but only because I got really good at it, hated Perl, didn't actually get properly acquainted with Python until recently, and I have serious aversion of using PHP to write console tools.

Of course, as you might imagine for a Slashdot reader, my social life is absolutely devoid of content :) I don't like it that way anymore, but if I let go I have no idea what to do next. It's like you either do this full-life, or you don't. If I cut down, I just feel that I'd write OpenSSL-style code instead, and I'm not at ease with the idea at all. The fact that I work in a very tiny company that relies on me probably doesn't help. This paragraph is probably good material for an "Ask Slashdot" article: "How do you cut down and get a life?". I know it's a viable proposition for an article after reading the comments on the "Parenting rewires male brains" article. Either everyone there was masterfully trolling, or I've been doing everything wrong in my life so far. I'm yet to see what I can do to fix that, but I have to, as I'm 31 now, and I don't want to become Larry Laffer (he is 40 in the game).

Oh, and I think I'll be getting my first downmods ever. But do as you like. /RANT

I took apart and put back together toaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133639)

The built a Heath Kit 27 inch console TV on the Kitchen table. If you can tell what made me do that you will have your answer.

For me, it all started... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133653)

...with an Apple Lisa my Dad bought from a Heathkit dealer in Kansas. That was my first computer in the late 80's. Can remember upgrading that thing through several generations of Macs as it morphed into the Mac XL and you could put in new hard drives, upgrade RAM. (Crazy that my iPhone has more CPU, storage, and display resolution than that first battle tank of a "personal" computer.)

Reading Stephen Levy's Hackers book when I was 14 sucked me in to the hacking mentality:

Since then I've worked on pen testing teams at Cisco, done source code review for Fortify and Cigital, protected the Federal Reserve Bank, CitiBank, from attacks, audited at Fortune1, and organized a push one of the world's largest ever PKI update.

Information security is in many ways an insane field to go into and I wouldn't recommend it to my children, but it's done me well.
What counts more than anything is an unbridled sense of curiosity.

windows first & linux second (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 7 months ago | (#47133663)

i called what i did "customizing" and never considered it hacking back when win98 was supported i would do registry modifications and do things to strip IE & OE and windows media player out and install my own software, same for Win2k & XP, and i like to keep a custom Linux install because i dont really like what comes out of the box on Linux distros,

a Commodore Pet 3032 (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 7 months ago | (#47133723)

1978, aged 8, our school had a commodore pet 3032. i typed in a simple program in BASIC, 10 for i = 1 to 40, 20 print tab(i), i 30 next i, 40 goto 10 and watched the numbers 1 to 40 scroll across the screen. i figured "huh that was obvious, i can do that" and 25 years later i was reverse-engineering NT 4.0 Domains network traffic (often literally one bit at a time) by the same kind of logical inference of observing results and deducing knowledge.

by 2006 i learned that there is something called "Advaita Vedanta" which is crudely known in the west as "espistemology". Advaita Vedanta basically classifies knowledge (there are several types: inference is just one of them), and knowing *that* allows you to have the confidence in your abilities. up until i heard about Advaita Vedanta i was "hacking blind and instinctively", basically. now i know that reverse-engineering is basically an extreme form of knowledge inference. which is kinda cool.

i did it for the women (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 7 months ago | (#47133889)

Didn't work :p
But seriously...C64...seeing the cracked games...
Impressed by the whole demo scene and intro messages...
hex editors...decompilers....

I had the opportunity (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#47133909)

I had a love of video games in the late '70s right around when the TRS-80 Model I Level I was released and the opportunity to sit with one for hours at the local Radio Shack once a month. To be honest, I was hoping to get into dentistry or pharmacy, but my grades weren't good enough, but they were good enough by half a percent to get me into the University of Saskatchewan's Computer Science program through the College of Arts and Science.

And thus my career was born as much by chance as by intention.

Nowadays I'm on disability, but I still sling code for the fun of it -- I just don't have to put up with bullshit meetings or any body else's artificial schedules, so it's as much fun as it was when I was 14 and just learning to PEEK and POKE Z-80 machine code.

Define your terms (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 7 months ago | (#47133947)

Hacking's definition has become such a mess that it should be retired forever. The nerd community needs to come up with a new term and never tell anyone. And, as a sidenote, this also goes for the terms "geek" and "nerd". When I was growing up, non-techies never wanted to be called these things, they were derisive. The geeks, however, were pretty comfortable with it. Today, anyone with an Atari shirt and/or Android phone is called a geek, but let's face it they're really just modified hipsters. So, if by hacker you mean someone who enjoys coding or customizing technology (the traditional definitions), let's face it the age of the BBS was truly the frontier. Born in an age when technology was cryptic and required a learning curve, these "walled ecosystems" were where the true geek wanted to be. Either playing in it or being a sysop. What an amazing time. Today, web scripting database programming are wonderful fun and something that can be shared easily with others.

Video Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47133953)

Grew up chewing on NES controllers. Born in 87.

Wanted to change the rules of the games, but back then it was pretty much play it or don't, you can't change anything.

Grandparents got me a Vtech Computer with a one-line display 24 characters long, text only.

It had a BASIC mode where you could have it ask you for your name, and print it back. I was hooked.

Made text based RPG games that listed out your HP, their HP, then asked you to input 1 to punch, 2 to kick, etc. I even had a spell list and MP later on. I was like 7 or 8 when I did that.

Knew then and there I wanted to be a Software Developer, now I'm 26 and make 100K/year doing exactly what I planned when I was 9. I always thought everyone flip-flopping their career choices was a bit odd. I've always known 100% this is my destiny.

Dropped out of high school, never enrolled in college, pure self-taught passion. There is an American dream but it requires passion. I'll take passion over schooling any day of the week and my hiring practices reflect that.

But at the end of the day.... It was video games that made me start coding. I did everything people say you shouldn't do yet here I am.

it was my mom! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47134099)

my mom was one of the first programmers... when she went back to school it was to learn a new-fangled language called "Pascal", version 1, on the CDC 6600...

she showed me her homework, 8 queens, it made perfect sense to me (10 years old), the rest is history.

that said, computer programming these days is terrible!!!! not the same thing at all.

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