The Conscience of a Hacker (also known as The Hacker Manifesto) is a small essay written January 8, 1986 by a hacker who went by the handle (or pseudonym) of The Mentor (born Loyd Blankenship). It was written after the author’s arrest, and first published in the underground hacker ezine Phrack in Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10. Today it can be found on countless websites.
It is considered a cornerstone of hacker culture, and it gives some insight into the psychology of early hackers. It is said to have shaped the hacker community’s view of itself and its motivations. The Manifesto states that hackers choose to hack because it is a way for them to learn, and because they are often frustrated and bored in school. It also expresses the satori of a hacker realizing his potential in the realm of computers.
The article is quoted in the 1995 movie Hackers, although in the movie it is being read from an issue of the hacker magazine 2600, not a historically accurate printout of Phrack. It is also reproduced inside the CD case of the computer game Uplink.
This article also inspired Wraith (also known as Digital Overdrive ) to write “Why I’m A Hacker”. “A Hacker Manifesto” is also the name of a book written by media studies professor McKenzie Wark.
The Mentor gave a reading of The Hacker Manifesto and offered additional insight at H2K2.
To this day, the Manifesto acts as a guideline to hackers across the globe, especially those new to the field. It serves as an ethical foundation for hacking, and asserts that there is a point to hacking that supersedes selfish desires to exploit or harm other people (like black hat crackers/hackers), and that technology should be used to expand our horizons and try to keep the world free.
==Phrack Inc.==Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
The following was written shortly after my arrest…\/\The Conscience of a Hacker/\/by+++The Mentor+++Written on January 8, 1986=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Another one got caught today, it’s all over the papers. “TeenagerArrested in Computer Crime Scandal”, “Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering”…Damn kids. They’re all alike.
But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950’s technobrain,ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder whatmade 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 ofthe 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 explainfor 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 discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this iscool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it’s because Iscrewed 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 throughthe phone line like heroin through an addict’s veins, an electronic pulse issent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought… a board isfound.”This is it… this is where I belong…”I know everyone here… even if I’ve never met them, never talked tothem, 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 atschool when we hungered for steak… the bits of meat that you did let slipthrough were pre-chewed and tasteless. We’ve been dominated by sadists, orignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us will-ing 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, thebeauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without payingfor what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, andyou call us criminals.
We explore… and you call us criminals. We seekafter 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 usand 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 isthat 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 mefor.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.