Hackers definition: The term “hacker” has been stretched and applied to so many different groups of people that it has become impossible to say precisely what a hacker is. Even hackers themselves have trouble coming up with a definition that is satisfactory, usually falling back on broad generalizations about knowledge, curiosity, and the desire to grasp how things work.

hackers definition

Various hacker definition

1. a person who uses their computer expertise in any effort to breach security walls and gain entry to secure sites;
2. a person with a profound appreciation and affection for computers and programming
Definition of hacker by The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang
and Unconventional English

A microcomputer user who attempts to gain unauthorized access to proprietary computer systems.
Hacker definition by dictionary.com

Hacker: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular. The term is often misused in a pejorative context, where “cracker” would be the correct term.
Hacker definition by rfc1392

1. An expert at programming and solving problems with a computer;
2. A person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system.
Hacker definition by merriam-webster.com

Hackers operate as a circle of initiates who exclude themselves from everyday ‘normality’ to devote themselves to programming as an end in itself.
Slavoj Zizek’s definition of hacker

Hacker definition – olds-chool and new-school

The term hacker has its own historical trajectory, meaning different things to different generations. Computer programmers from the 1950s and 1960s, who saw their work as breaking new ground by challenging old paradigms of computer science, think of hacking as an intellectual exercise that has little or nothing to do with the exploits of their 1980s and 1990s counterparts. Indeed, this older generation of hackers prefer to call their progeny “crackers” in order to differentiate themselves from what they perceive as their younger criminal counterparts. The younger generation take umbrage at such distinctions, arguing that today’s hackers are doing the real work of exploration, made necessary by the earlier generation’s selling out. In some ways, these younger hackers argue, they have managed to stay true to the most fundamental tenets of the original hacker ethic. Accordingly, the very definition of the term “hacker” is widely and
fiercely disputed by both critics of and participants in the computer

The new school emerged in an atmosphere of ambivalence, where hacking and hackers had been seen and celebrated both as the origins of the new computerized world and as the greatest threat to it. New-school hackers responded by constituting a culture around questions of technology, to better understand prevailing cultural attitudes toward technology and to examine their own relationship to it as well.

Hacker definition controversy

Currently, hacker is used in two main conflicting ways, one pejorative and one complimentary. The controversy of hacker definition is usually based on the assumption that the term originally meant someone messing about with something in a positive sense, that is, using playful cleverness to achieve a goal. But then, it is supposed, the meaning of the term shifted over the decades since it first came into use in a computer context and became to refer to computer criminals. As usage has spread more widely, the primary meaning of newer users conflicts with the original primary emphasis. In popular usage and in the media, computer intruders or criminals is the exclusive meaning today, with associated pejorative connotations. n the computing community, the primary meaning is a complimentary description for a particularly brilliant programmer or technical expert.

Hacker definition in sense of Programmer subculture

Within the computer programmer subculture of hackers, the term hacker is also used for a programmer who reaches a goal by employing a series of modifications to extend existing code or resources. In this sense, it can have a negative connotation of using inelegant kludges to accomplish programming tasks that are ugly, inelegant, and inefficient. This derogatory form of the noun “hack” derives from the everyday English sense “to cut or shape by or as if by crude or ruthless strokes” and is even used among users of the positive sense of “hacker”. In other words to “hack” at an original creation, as if with an axe, is to force-fit it into being usable for a task not intended by the original creator, and a “hacker” would be someone who does this habitually. (The original creator and the hacker may be the same person.) This usage is common in both programming and engineering. In programming, hacking in this sense appears to be tolerated and seen as a necessary compromise in many situations. Some argue that it should not be, due to this negative meaning; others argue that some kludges can, for all their ugliness and imperfection, still have “hack value”. In non-software engineering, the culture is less tolerant of unmaintainable solutions, even when intended to be temporary, and describing someone as a “hacker” might imply that they lack professionalism. In this sense, the term has no real positive connotations, except for the idea that the hacker is capable of doing modifications that allow a system to work in the short term, and so has some sort of marketable skills.

Programmer subculture and computer security hackers
The main basic difference between programmer subculture and computer security hackers is their mostly separate historical origin and development. Hackers from the programmer subculture usually work openly and use their real name, while computer security hackers prefer secretive groups and identity-concealing aliases.

Home computer hackers

In yet another context, a hacker is define as a computer hobbyist who pushes the limits of software or hardware. The home computer hacking subculture relates to the hobbyist home computing of the late 1970s, beginning with the availability of MITS Altair. An influential organization was the Homebrew Computer Club. However, its roots go back further to amateur radio enthusiasts. The amateur radio slang referred to creatively tinkering to improve performance as “hacking” already in the 1950s.[26]
A large overlaps between hobbyist hackers and the programmer subculture hackers existed during the Homebrew Club’s days, but the interests of both communities developed into different directions. Today, the hobbyists focus on commercial computer and video games, software cracking and exceptional computer programming (demo scene). Also of interest to some members of this group is the modification of computer hardware and other electronic devices.