The Hacker's Manifesto - by The Mentor

January 8, 1986


Another one got caught today, it’s all over the papers. “Teenager
Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal”, "Hacker Arrested after Bank
Tampering.”  “Damn kids. They’re all alike.” But did you, in your
three-piece psychology and 1950s technobrain, ever take a look behind
the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what
forces shaped him, what may have molded him? I am a hacker, enter my
world. Mine is a world that begins with school. I’m smarter than most
of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me. “Damn
underachiever. They’re all alike.” I’m in junior high or high school.
I’ve listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce
a fraction. I understand it. “No, Ms. Smith, I didn’t show my work. I
did it in my head.” “Damn kid. Probably copied it. They’re all alike.”
I made a discover today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is
cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it’s because I
screwed it up. Not because it doesn’t like me, or feels threatened by
me, or thinks I’m a smart ass, or doesn’t like teaching and shouldn’t
be here. Damn kid. All he does is play games. They’re all alike. And
then it happened...a door opened to a world...rushing through the phone
line like heroin through an addict’s veins, an electronic pulse is sent
out, a refuge from day-to-day incompetencies is sought...a board is
found. “This is it...this is where I belong...” I know everyone
here...even if I’ve never met them, never talked to them, may never
hear from them again...I know you all...Damn kid. Tying up the phone
line again. They’re all alike...You bet your ass we’re all
alike...we’ve been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for
steak...the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed
and tasteless. We’ve been dominated by sadists, or ignored by
apathetic. The few that have something to teach found us willing
pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert. This is
our world now...the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty
and the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying
for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons,
and you call us criminals. We explore...and you call us criminals. We
seek after knowledge...and you call us criminals. We exist without skin
color, without nationality, without religious bias...and you call us
criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat,
and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet
we're the criminals. Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of
curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and
think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you,
something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this
is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us
all...after all, we’re all alike.