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Hardware Hacking Programming Build

Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking? 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-stupid-turtle dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

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  • Hacking = Curiosity (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:18PM (#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.

  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Friday May 30, 2014 @07:27PM (#47133033) Homepage
    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.

    73

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