Open Source and Free Software hackers
In the Open Source and Free Software hacker culture, a computer
hacker is a person who enjoys designing software and building programs
with a sense for aesthetics and playful cleverness.
According to Eric S. Raymond, the Open source and Free Software hacker subculture developed in the 1960s among ‘academic hackers’ working on early minicomputers in computer science environments in the United States. After 1969 it fused with the technical culture of the pioneers of the Arpanet. The PDP-10 machine AI at MIT, which was running the ITS
operating system and was connected to the Arpanet, provided an early
hacker meeting point. After 1980 the subculture coalesced with the
culture of Unix, and after 1987 with elements of the early microcomputer
hobbyists that themselves had connections to radio amateurs in the
1920s. Since the mid-1990s, it has been largely coincident with what is
now called the free software and open source movement.
Many programmers have been labeled "great hackers," but the specifics of who that label applies to is a matter of opinion. Certainly major contributors to computer science such as Edsger Dijkstra and Donald Knuth, as well as the inventors of popular software such as Linus Torvalds (Linux), and Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson (the C programming language) are likely to be included in any such list; see also List of programmers. People primarily known for their contributions to the consciousness of the academic hacker culture include Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement and the GNU project, president of the Free Software Foundation and author of the famous Emacs text editor as well as the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), and Eric S.
Raymond, one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative and writer of the famous text The Cathedral and the Bazaar and many other essays, maintainer of the Jargon File (which was previously maintained by Guy L. Steele, Jr.).
Within the academic hacker culture, 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 kludges to accomplish programming tasks that are ugly, inelegant, and inefficient. This derogatory form of the noun "hack"
is even used among users of the positive sense of "hacker" (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 a very universal sense, a hacker also means someone
who makes things work beyond perceived limits in a clever way in
general, for example reality hackers.