September 27, 2010 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Looking for books/essays/authorities on the history of hacking and hacker culture.

I am interested to learn a bit about the cultural history of hacking, not so much about hacking itself. I wanted to see if I could find more information on the following:

1.) Books that chronicle the history of hacking, from phone phreaking through present day.

2.) The names of authorities on Hackers - people like the editor of 2600 magazine, Emmanuel Goldstein.

3.) Someone who can speak to cultural representations of hackers and hacking, i.e.: Movies (War Games, Hackers) Books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), characters in video games, et. al.

thanks for your help.
posted by orville sash to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Levy's Hackers is a good classic.
The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling is also excellent.
Jason Scott's BBS documentary would be useful
posted by blahblahblah at 11:45 AM on September 27, 2010

Kevin Mitnick. There are books about him, there's film based on a book about him, and there's books he's written himself.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:49 AM on September 27, 2010

The Cuckoo's Egg is INCREDIBLY dated (it was dated when I read it in the mid-90s), but it seems like the sort of thing you're after. A neat glimpse into 80s networking. I guess it's a novelized true story. Light on the story and heavy on the hacking.
posted by supercres at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's some interesting information about the history of phreaking here, and I'm eagerly awaiting his upcoming book on the subject.
posted by nonane at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2010

Secrets of the Little Blue Box, by Ron Rosenbaum.

Also, read up on these guys: Tech Model Railroad Club.
posted by Opposite George at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2010

This Atlantic article is a kind of syllabus for studying hacker culture.
posted by hought20 at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier is comprised of three sections that cover the Morris Worm (the first widespread public attack on the nascent internet), Kevin Mitnick, and the Chaos Computer Club.

For some sociology on hacking/history of terminology, you want to read the Jargon File and its various appendices. (In its third edition, the Jargon File was published as The New Hacker's Dictionary.)

It might be worth your time to go back and read some of Phrack! as well.
posted by namewithoutwords at 12:03 PM on September 27, 2010

History of Phone Phreaking has some interesting stuff on their proper site and on the (randomly updated) blog.

Youth International Party Line archives, pioneer (phone) phreaker magazine
posted by filthy light thief at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2010

It's more of a history of the Internet than a history of hacking per se, but many of the early adopters of the Internet were hackers, so it ties in well IMHO.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late
posted by COD at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2010

The book that taught me the most about hacking culture is The Hacker's Dictionary, which is a very well-written book that I actually read cover-to-cover. Even if that's not something you're interested in doing, it's a terrific reference work, as it gives all kinds of historical and cultural tidbits as it defines the words it lists.

I loves me some specialized dictionaries, and this is one of my favorites.
posted by Dr. Wu at 1:28 PM on September 27, 2010

On non-preview, I see that namewithoutwords beat me to it!
posted by Dr. Wu at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2010

As mentioned in the first replay The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier by Bruce Sterling is excellent. It is also freely available online with the authors permission- he even added a section to the online edition discussing why. I know this is far from revolutionary now, but he did this back in 1992...
posted by Canageek at 2:05 PM on September 27, 2010

The Cuckoo's Egg is fantastic! Yes it's dated, but mostly because a current book wouldn't have so many technical details.

Cryptonomicon may help you "get" the hacker mindset.

Beware of books written by nontechnical people. There was a wave of awful, unrealistic cybercrime novels in the late 90s.

Old issues of 2600 are easily available online.
posted by miyabo at 4:49 PM on September 27, 2010

Underground by Suelette Dreyfus chronicles 90s hacking by, among others, "Mendax", who is now better known as Julian Assange.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:52 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fred Turner's From Counterculture to Cyberculture documents some of the cultural roots of "hacker" (or at least Silicon Valley) culture. Not sure how much deals with cracking/phreaking etc.
posted by col_pogo at 6:04 PM on September 27, 2010

A little bit sensationalistic, but reading Winn Schwartau's Cybershock was great as a kid.
posted by zer0render at 8:21 PM on September 27, 2010

What the Dormouse Said follows both hacking and research/industrial computing stories.
posted by nonane at 5:12 AM on September 28, 2010

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