Hacker Syndrome Paper
The Hacker Syndrome
By Tad Deriso
There is some compelling force in all Hackers that seems to draw them
to their computers every day. Why they get up at 4am to use the
modem, and why they continue to rack up a truly incredible phone bill
is beyond me.
Most computer areas, at your home or at your office, tend to be messy.
Even you try to keep it clean, it is truly impossible. Whether it be
empty Coke cans laying all around, soldering devices, electric diodes,
computer parts, or integrated circuits, it is not only a pain for your
mother to look at, but a prime Russian ICBM missile target as well.
There is much detail needed to explain a Hacker. For instance,
instead of organizing his clothes by color, best ones, or style, he
organizes his by pile. Also, he likes to sing songs such as, "Let's
get Digital", "We all live in a yellow subroutine", and "Somewhere
over the RAMbow".
Most Hackers do well in school. The reason is not to impress their
teachers, not to get money from their parents, and not to be educated,
but they do it so they can hopefully get a scholarship to MIT. You
can't blame them, though, if they are looking out into space. It
might be because they are worried if MCI traced the calls that they
sent to NORAD.
All Hackers, big or small, love computers, whether they be Trash-80's
or an IBM 360/VM workstation. When they get on one, it's mighty hard
to get them off of it.
There are 2 types of Hackers. One who likes to crash local BBS's, and
the one who writes programs in Assembly Language. The Hacker who
crashes systems is the one that most people think that a Hacker is. A
typical example of one is John Fredrickson (A.K.A. "The Phone Man").
He loves to crash computers, and break into illegal systems. The ones
that he has gotten in to are MCI, CitiBank, school systems, IBM,
Southern Bell, and Georgia Tech, not to mention all the ones in
The second type of Hacker is the programmer. He writes games,
utilities, and anything else that he can think of. Take for example,
John Harris, a freelance software writer for On-Line Software Co.
John had a brainstorm one day, and decided to write Frogger for the
Apple. He thought that it would take about 3 weeks to complete. He
started on Frogger a week late, because of the complicated music set
that he had to write. After two months, he was almost done. He
decided to take a break and go to the Software Expo. He decided to
take his nearly completed Frogger, and show it to the consumers at the
show. He also took with him the only back-up copy, in case the main
disk did not boot.
While at the fair, he was talking to the Manager about getting a
booth. He had his disks with him. Then, when he got a booth
reserved, he reached down to get his disks, and they were gone! All
his hard work, including the MultiLevel character generator, music
lines, disk subroutines, assembly routines, debugging programs, etc.
After that tragedy, John was in a deep depression. He finally started
working on it again in 3 months. He completed it in 4 months and 3
Hackers always take time off. There is always one way to notice a
true Hacker. At a party, the true Hacker is the one in the corner
talking about operating system security and how to get around it. At
the beach, the True Hacker is the one drawing flow charts in the sand.
At a football game, the true Hacker is the one comparing the football
plays against a simulation printed on 11 by 14 fanfold paper.
Most Hackers work for the U.S. Government-- mainly the Department of
Defense. You can see the best Hackers at the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in California.
What sort of environment does a Hacker function best in? No, not a
heated room with a clean table and disks organized neatly, but they do
best in rooms that have line-printed Snoopy calendars from the year
1969. They do not know how to cook, so they survive on Twinkies and
coffee. Instead of wasting electricity for a heater, they spend it on
air-conditioners to cool of their computer system in mid-January when
the temperatures are below freezing. They wear layers and layers of
clothing to keep the body heat in. When you see one of these people,
instead of a Hacker coming into your mind, you think that he is about
to go on a Polar expedition somewhere in the North Pole.
Hackers also like to hang around arcades. (This is also true for
kids, little old ladies, and fighter pilots.) There, secluded in their
own environment, Hackers can talk freely on computer hints and short
cuts while playing Pac-Man, or Joust.
All Hackers like Graphics. They like low-resolution, but prefer high-
resolution the best. These graphics, such as Sine waves, rotating 3-D
boxes, and little balloons, are confined to the limits of a systems
capability. The older more experienced Hackers are the ones who are
lucky enough to get to work on a VAX system, and maybe even a CRAY-1
SuperComputer. If they use these, they have only the limits of their
imagination to stop them.
Most Middle School Hackers between the ages of 10 through 14, like to
use computers to do reports on, and play games. Some of these younger
generation Hackers have gotten into BASIC programming.
Some people, like to impress real Hackers by making them think that
they know everything. There is a certain name for this kind of
person. He is a Sub-Hacker (Intillectuous dumbfoundeth). For
instance, you come up to them one day, and say,"Hey so-and-so what
does BASIC stand for?" and you could sit there for days, and he would
act like the answer was on the tip of his tongue, when it was probably
in his toes. It is people like this that give Hackers a bad name.
All Hackers have certain rules that they go by. One is to never call
long distance on Monday, because of the high phone charge. Another is
If builders built buildings they way programmers wrote programs, the
first woodpecker that comes along would destroy civilization. Another
is, if the computer accepts a program on the first run without any
errors, either there is a malfunction, or it must be a dream.
Hackers are a unique breed. Combining intelligence, personality, and
a morale sense of good taste. A Hacker enjoys the environment that
appeals to him the most. Such as, the computer room, the arcade,
science lab, or the Atari downstairs. They like to be alone.
Secluded in their own thoughts, thinking of what the password could be
to log on to General Electric. Hackers are the people who are going
to make our future brighter, and more exciting in the field of
electronics, data processing, artificial intelligence, and
programming. We need to support these people in all the ways that we
can, so we will be insured of a more happier future in the world of