Cyberpunk Review » First recorded usage of “Hacker” from MIT paper in 1963

October 4, 2008

First recorded usage of “Hacker” from MIT paper in 1963

Source: Gustavo Duarte

For the record… My day-job has me working at a document-to-data conversion company. That means we take physical paper documents, run them through various types of scanners connected to computers, and crunch the images to make files that can be indexed for searches and/or burned to optical media. Such operations are important to save possibly historical documents that could be lost over time as paper rots away.

Because you never know when you might come across gems like this…

Scan of 1963 MIT Paper where 'hacker' was 1st used

An scanned image of the MIT “The Tech” newspaper where “hacker” is reportedly first used.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology newspaper, and Professor Calton Tucker specifically, has the claim of first using the term “hacker” in recorded media. This information was found via Yale University’s Dictionary of Quotations.


Colored Connotations. As you can see from the article, “hacker” has had black-hat connotations from the start, so the mainstream media really can’t be blamed for that, though white-hats have been working hard at correcting that.

What’s not mentioned is how Professor Tucker came up with the term, especially since what’s being described is considered “phreaking” (though the use of the PDP-11 is definitely war dialing).


Too soon? Or not soon enough? There’s nothing that says this is officialy the first use of “hacker;” This is the earliest recording of the term so far. There’s still old documents out there waiting to be scanned, maybe something with an earlier use of “hacker” not yet discovered. Though with a couple of the the comments suggesting that “hacker” need not be limited to computers and technology, such a discovery could complicate matters.

A few bytes for interested cyberpunk historians to “nybble” on.

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.


October 4, 2008

Honey and Dick said:

But why did they use it. Isn’t it a horseriding term?

Neal said:

Interesting article–thanks. I think that was a PDP-1 computer, not a PDP-11.

October 5, 2008

Mister EDgAr H said:

looking at how the word “Hacker” it wouldn’t make sense that this is the first time it is used. The author of the article seems to be referring to a term that is already known, at least by some people part of an elite? Did anyone Digg this yet (I would but I don’t have a digg account)? If this is truly the oldest document containing the word Hacker this might get some attention by the dorks who hang on digg!?

christopher said:

i thought the term (as used in computers) came from the tmrc, which pre-dates this entry and would mean that at least in it’s origin it referred to white-hats.

October 12, 2008

dp said:

what a job………………………………..

November 15, 2008

nic said:

dp, that’s digital comm. for ya!

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