Hacker (hobbyist)

In home computing, a hacker is a person who heavily modifies the software or hardware of their computer system. It includes building, rebuilding, modifying and creating software (software cracking, demo scene) and electronic hardware (hardware hacking, modding) either to make it better, faster, give added features or to make it do something it was never intended to do. Hobby hacking originated around the MITS Altair.

Hardware modifier

Another type of hacker is one who creates novel hardware modifications. Hardware hackers are those who modify hardware (not limited to computers) to expand capabilities; this group blurs into the culture of hobbyist inventors and professional electronics engineering. An example of such modification includes the addition of TCP/IP Internet capabilities to a number of vending machines and coffee makers during the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Hackers who have the ability to write circuit-level code, device drivers, firmware, low-level networking, (and even more impressively, using these techniques to make devices do things outside of their spec sheets), are typically in very high regard among hacker communities. This is primarily due to the difficulty and enormous complexity of this type of work, and the electrical engineering knowledge required to do so.

Hardware hacking

Hardware hacking can consist of either making new hardware, or simply modifying old hardware (known as "modding"). Real hardware hackers perform novel and perhaps dangerous modifications to hardware, to make it suit their needs.

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