Before I go into detail I must define a few things:
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.
Computer Hobbyist - A person who tinkered with computers and built new hardware, operating systems and even word processors.
What ever happened to the Computer Hobbyist?
Computer Hobbyists are still around, but they are now called Hackers. In the 60's, 70's, 80's and even in the 90's there a group of people who lived on IRC and bulletin boards. Apple was started by them and they had an anti-IBM sentiment. Years later most of the "old school" computer hobbyist gave up their pursuits and they complained about the big companies and big business revolution that has taken over. The hobby was getting too expensive to keep tinkering with computers. Things were changing every 18 months or so and that was just too rapid for most. This was in the period of about 1985 through 1992 when you needed to buy another desktop computer every 18 months. Most hobbyist bailed out during that time just because it was too expensive. The reason they havn't returned to the scene was that programming was turning into a nightmare. It would now take a full time commitment and most programming languages needed schooling as well. So they left the scene back around 1992. Sad time, but times; they are changing. Programming is getting easier. Code is getting easier to write and now hackers are making modifications to hardware. Instead of creating it, they are now modding it.
Hackers have now taken up the slack as the computer hobbyists have fallen off. Its the changing of the guard. Computer Hobbyist seemed to have turn out the lights in the room and now the lights are back on and in full swing. PC Magazine has fallen off the shelves. They should be reinventing them selves for the new hacker sub culture thats coming into play. Hackers these days can be found deep in their cave working on the next software modification. They work on software and on hardware. They are thriving and making up for lost time. These days, hackers are known to create new startups. These start ups will be the Apple of tomorrow. Apple was once started as a hobby and now there are many companies forming around software and hardware innovation. Hackers are now the innovators of software and hardware. Look them up. A large portion of them can be found on a site like Hacker News.
Photo by Yodel Anecdotal
So if your wondering where the last computer hobbyist went. You don't have to look very far. They are the new guard and will hopefully make the old Computer Hobbyists proud.
Posted in response to Will the last Computer Hobbyist Please turn out the lights?
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