The following is being reprinted in order for those of of you out there that are open minded enough to posibly learn something about the philosophies shared by the majority of the hacking community.
"The Conscience of a Hacker" was first published in Phrack - Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10 in 1986, by the "computer criminal" known as The Mentor, after he was arrested. I hope that you, whoever, wherever, and whatever you are, read and understand what The Mentor was trying to say when he wrote these words.
The following was written shortly after my arrest...
The Conscience of a Hacker
Written on January 8, 1986
Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers.
"Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after
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 what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have
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 discovery 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 the 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 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, the beauty of 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.
The Mentor is not the first person to criticize our nations school system, and he will not be the last! Everyone seems to agree that the current system is not working. It used to be good, but too many teachers got tenure and too many administrators got sick of closely examining students to choose what course levels they should be taking. So, in the name of progress of course, the school system was destroyed. At my school there are 2 to 4 levels of courses for students who are at or below the average, however there is NEVER more than 2 levels for those who are above the average, and these courses are HARD to get into. They just got rid of an English level that consisted of 800 above average students. All 800 are being moved to a level below there intelligence or a level that will be to difficult for them to handle. In the name of progress. Bull shit! It was done to make our administrator's job easier!! Now we have 800 kids who, if they where not bored enough with school, are now even more sick of it, either to much pressure of too little challenge. OOOHHH, YES we fought it! We signed petitions and gave speeches and got parents on our side, but we are just kids! What do we know? We are stupid idiots who can't drive, can't vote, can't even get medical assistance without parental consent and do not deserve to voice our worthless opinions!!! No one listened, and everyone lost.
There are a group of kids in EVERY school who are advanced computer students. How does someone under 18 get to this level? With years of study and experimentation that is often illegal. Copyrights, patents, licence agreements, and anti-piracy laws are all broken, but it is all worth it. The student becomes a computer systems and programming expert!! Most people refuse to believe that one of "today's kids" would spend the time and work required just for the sake of learning. They tell us we are playing games or that we have some ulterior motive, and they listen to little news stories about hackers. The kids turn to their schools for more information, but most find an environment somewhat like my school. My school has more than 50 computers, do you think there is even one programming course!? NO!! Just a bunch of worthless courses on out of date word processors and old spreadsheet programs. What about colleges? Yes, colleges do offer some courses to high school students, but they are little better than the high school's. And the universities will not allow us access to their systems!! You have to be a student there! Another option gone. Where should these kids turn for information?? Businesses? I don't care how many IS managers tell you they would hire a high school student, IT NEVER HAPPENS!!!!!!! Who would hire a kid with no high school diploma, not to mention a college degree, no work experience, and no computer knowledge other than what he has taught himself! Most people think the kid is lying when he describes the experience he has. They would not think twice about hiring a person like this!! A person with this kind of background would have a hard time getting a job at Mcdonald's!! These kids are left with no other option. They must again break the law in order to gain the knowledge everyone seems to deem them unworthy of having.
They call us "The first generation that will do worse than their parents!" The "Baby Boomers" came up with this Bull Shit. Not surprising. The generation that has spent the last ten years calling itself the best generation that has ever been has now proclaimed itself the best generation that WILL EVER BE!!!!! What does this statement mean?? Many people think that it means that our generation will not be able to advance technology as far as they have, or that technology will stop here. Not true. Many people believe think that we will destroy the earth because we will not be able to keep up with our parents. Not true. Many people believe that our generation is somehow collectively less intelligent than theirs. This, also, is not true. What DOES this statement mean? It means that the average student today will learn less in school than the average student 30 years ago. Who get's the blame for this? WE DO! Although they will not accept our opinions on the school system, they blame US for it's fallacies! They tell us we are lazy, that all we want to do is go out with friends or play "games" on the computer. They say we all go out at night at commit crimes, do drugs, steal thousands of dollars from companies and the government. They do not even attempt to learn the truth, the just form a biased opinion and go with it. Here we have a group of kids who want to learn, but their schools deny them the information they seek and no one else is willing to provide it. So, they take things into their own hands and steal the knowledge they require. In return they are arrested and prosecuted. If they were allowed to learn they would be able to use this information to help the computer community, but instead they join the thousands of people crowding up our nation's prisons.
Sad. It is sad when a nation forces their children to break the law in order to learn.
Even tonight as the 'Net glistens with the individual data of several million users, The Mentor's Last Words still echo through cyberspace as the declaration of a new age and a new world - "of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud." The simple fact is that the coming of the computer and the rise of the Internet heralds the transition from a commerce and power based localised civilisation to a higher, information based global civilisation. The Mentor will forever remain an underground icon of the many visionaries who were victimised by those who feared and misunderstood - as one of the best and the brightest, one who saw the future and understood his role in realising it.
All who act as harbingers of a new age recognise and acknowledge The Mentor - his words will always echo in our hearts and minds.