Ten History-Making Hackers Who Shaped Technology

Wednesday, September 14, 2011



Gizmodo has an interesting writeup on who they have determined to be the ten hackers who most influenced the evolution of computers, network systems, and the Internet.

The ensemble is somewhat surprising - a collection of both white and black hat innovators who's activities often landed them on either side of the law, but who nonetheless had a tremendous impact on information technology as we know it today.

The following are brief excerpts on each of the individuals Gizmodo highlighted in their article:

Konrad Zuse

Zuse made the world's very first fully programmable (Turing-complete as they say) computer, known as the Z3. It began, of course, as the Z1, and while it wasn't built in a cave with a box of scraps, Zuse did build it himself in his parents' apartment, completing it in 1938. Zuse eventually gained some backing by the German government, leading to the evolution from the Z1 to the Z3, which, complete in 1941, is considered the mother of modern computing...

John "Captain Crunch" Draper

Draper's hacking heyday was back in the early 1970's, when the largest computer network to which the general public had any access was the telephone system... one of the most well-known Phreaking tools was a toy whistle that came in a box of Cap'n Crunch cereal. With this whistle, Draper created another popular Phreaking tool known as the Blue Box, a device that could produce many other tones used by the phone companies...

Steve Wozniak

Wozniak was no stranger to Phreaking. In fact, after Draper shared the details of his Blue Box design during a Homebrew Computer Club meeting, Wozniak built a version of his own... With the proceeds from their blue boxes as well as selling Wozniak's cherished HP calculator and Jobs' VW van, Wozniak created the Apple I...

Robert Tappan Morris

As a graduate student at Cornell University, Robert Morris created his claim to fame: the computer worm. According to Morris, he created the worm as an attempt to gauge the size of the internet at the time. After its release on November 2nd, 1988, the Morris Worm went on to infect approximately 6,000 systems (about 10 percent of the internet attached computers at the time)...

Mark "Phiber Optik" Abene

As a member of the hacker group Masters of Destruction, Abene was often poking around on AT&T's systems... Later, he would face more charges and ultimately serve a year in federal prison, making him the first hacker to do so...

Kevin "Dark Dante" Poulsen

Poulsen holds claim to one of the more amusing hacks of all time. A radio contest held by KIIS-FM promised a shiny new Porsche 944 S2 to the 102nd person to call into the station. Rather than try his luck among the multitude of Los Angeles listeners, Poulsen took over all of the telephone lines to the station to ensure he'd be the 102nd caller. He eventually had to disappear once he became a fugitive of the FBI...

Kevin Mitnick

Mitnick is perhaps the most famous hacker in computer history, likely due to his being the first hacker to make the FBI's Most Wanted list. As a master of social engineering, Mitnick didn't just hack computers; he hacked the human mind. In 1979, at the age of 16, he hacked his way into his first computer system and copied proprietary software...

Tsutomu Shimomura

Shimomura is a White-Hat hacker credited with capturing Kevin Mitnick. In 1994, Mitnick stole some of Shimomura's personal files and distributed them online. Motivated by revenge, Shimomura came up with a trace-dialing technique to back-hack his way in to locating Mitnick...

Richard Stallman

Stallman didn't like the proprietary stance many manufacturers were taking on their software. This eventually led Stallman to create the GNU General Public License and GNU operating system, a completely free Unix-like OS that is completely Unix-compatible...

Linus Torvalds

His hacking days began with an old Commodore VIC-20 and eventually a Sinclair QL, both of which he modified considerably. On the QL in particular, he programmed his own Text Editor and even a Pac-Man clone he dubbed Cool Man. In 1991, he got an Intel 80386 powered PC and began creating Linux, first under its own limited license but eventually merged it into the GNU Project under the GNU GPL...

For more details on each of these hackers' exploits, see the complete article at Gizmodo here:

Source:  http://gizmodo.com/5839299/10-hackers-who-made-history/gallery/1

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