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      I was trying to port and cross-compile GHC and got really confused.

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        The term “hacking” has been around a long time. It’s used in this article correctly http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/h/hacker.html

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          Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought it used to mean something like ‘using a system for something it was not intended to’. I just don’t understand how it has come to mean ‘using a system for something it was intended to’.

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            From what I understand, hacker culture came first; the Jargon File describes this kind of hacker as “A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary”.

            The mainstream use of it came later and “cracker” is generally used to refer to those instead (particularly if they’re doing it maliciously) in hacker culture. There’s some info at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker.

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              That’s enlightening!

              The controversy is usually based on the assertion 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 and came to refer to computer criminals.

              So, whoops, indeed I got it the wrong way around.

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                And now you know the shibboleth about hacking that you’ll be explaining to people for the rest of your life :)

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        I take it you don’t refer to yourself as a “coder” either.

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        The activity described in the article is definitely more akin to hacking than programming.

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        I think you’re in the minority there. “Hacking on [x]” is super common.

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          I know. I was just commenting on the deviation from (what I think was) the original meaning. A ‘hacker’ used to be someone able to exploit systems. Now ‘hacking’ is just used as a synonym for ‘developing’.

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            “Hacking” in the sense of programming preceded “hacking” in the sense of breaking into systems…

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              Are you sure? Google dictionary still has “the gaining of unauthorized access to data in a system or computer” as the primary meaning (and it doesn’t list ‘programming’ or anything like it as a meaning). https://www.etymonline.com/word/hacker says the first usage of the word in this sense is from 1975. I have only heard ‘hacking’ to mean ‘programming’ in the past 5(?) years.

              I think only people in the tech industry use this meaning of the word. And that is exactly the thing I have a problem with: Taking a well-defined word, and assigning a new meaning to it. It’s not like we have a shortage for synonyms of programmer: ‘coder’, ‘software engineer’, ‘(software) developer’. If I tell people outside of IT that I am a hacker, they’ll ask me what companies I have hacked and what data I obtained. It is just needlessly muddling the water so that people who are not hackers (in the traditional sense) can call themselves hackers and feel cool about themselves.

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                I’ve heard hacking to refer to (particularly open source) coding for at least 20 years. But I’m not an expert on the etymology or usage prior to that. @gerikson’s book recommendation is sound, The Cuckoo’s Egg is great (irrespective of whether it shifted the meaning of the term or not :))

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                The Jargon File is a glossary and usage dictionary of slang used by computer programmers. The original Jargon File was a collection of terms from technical cultures such as the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL) and others of the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities, including Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Carnegie Mellon University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It was published in paperback form in 1983 as The Hacker’s Dictionary (edited by Guy Steele), revised in 1991 as The New Hacker’s Dictionary (ed. Eric S. Raymond; third edition published 1996).

                (bold == my emphasis)

                Note the publication dates.

                My first contact with ESR’s Jargon File was in 1996 or so.

                I think the first widespread public knowledge of “hacker” in the sense of “intruder” is from Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg, published in 1989. I highly recommend this book, it’s great.