[FOUNTAIN]Hackers and crackersEniac, or the “Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer” was developed in 1946 in the United States and is generally thought to be the first computer in the world. It actually was not the first of its kind. The British mathematician Alan Turing rightfully deserves the honor of the visionary who brought about the digital society. Mr. Turing was a member of the British intelligence team Ultra, which decrypted the Enigma ciphers that Germany used during World War II.
He developed an electronic computing device called “Colossus” that could read Enigma-encrypted messages, which could once be decrypted mechanically but which then were improved to the point that mechanical devices were simply to slow to crack in an acceptable length of time. The Colossus machine was fast and accurate, and the Allies went to great pains to disguise the fact that they were reading the German’s military traffic, even to the point of pretending they were not aware of bombing raids planned and executed by the Nazis.
The Ultra team was disbanded after the war, and all the machines and their blueprints were destroyed. Mr. Turing got no recognition for his accomplishments and had to watch Eniac bask in its electronic glory despite having appeared two years after Colossus.
It might have been a little comfort for Mr. Turing had he known that he would be acknowledged as the world’s first hacker. Ever since Mr. Turing’s invention, computers have fascinated creative brains around the world. Some programmers enjoy making software purely for the fun of it. They came to be known as “hackers” in 1961 when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology purchased the second-generation computer PDP-1. Members of the Tech Model Railroad Club, a student organization studying train systems at MIT, secretly played with school computers at night. They enjoyed creating the programming tools, environments and related jargon that we use today.
Since then, hackers have developed many useful programs. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the co-founders of Apple Computer, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are a few of the notable early hackers.
They are distinguished from crackers, who maliciously penetrate networks, spread viruses and destroy data. The two types of people are as different as a Jedi knight and Darth Vader. Crackers were responsible for snarling last year’s college entrance test. They used their machines for destruction, and their motive was to prevent other students from applying for the examination. A bad boy learns bad things first.
by Lee Hoon-beom
The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s “week&” team.