Found in 8 comments on Hacker News
mcnichol · 2019-01-24 · Original thread
I don't think it's uncommon for people to learn from the top down and after some time and a bit if passion find themselves digging into the roots of it.

It came across as a tad condescending although I can easily believe it wasn't meant that way and you are just open mindedly sharing perspective as is the point of all this.

I reply not to just make that comment but actually to recommend a book (that many may have possibly already read) which gives a rich history well worth it.

They dive into East and West coast history as well as the influences of gaming which I think ties to this threads closest.

Its long, engaging, and the audiobook is just a kick.

If you are on that cusp of wanting to learn a bit more of where we come from with an Americana feel, they have done a fantastic job here.

rpeden · 2018-06-01 · Original thread
You might enjoy Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution[1]. It's not too focused on specific people or companies, although you'll encounter some well known people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Stallman in the book. It's an interesting read because it gives you a great background that helps you understand how we ended up with the tech culture and environment we have today.

In the reply to another comment, I also mentioned Coders at Work[2]. I found that it provided some great insight into the early days of some fascinating companies from a technical perspective.

[1] [2]

vinceguidry · 2018-02-20 · Original thread
In case anyone here hasn't read it yet, this should be required reading for any would-be computer geek:

I picked this up randomly off a university library shelf and before I knew it, I was halfway through the book and my feet were hurting.

skybrian · 2017-05-05 · Original thread
The positive usage of "hacker" has deep roots. The author of this article wrote a classic book that documents the early scene.

CodeCube · 2012-08-29 · Original thread
That is in fact the origin of the term. Check out the book Hackers, by Steven Levy ( and read up on how the Tech Model Railroad Club appreciated 'clever tricks' on how someone solved something, and it didn't necessarily have to be a 'technical hack' to warrant the phrase.

Another great text on the topic was written by Stallman:

"It didn't become easy—for practical purposes, using two chopsticks is completely superior. But precisely because using three in one hand is hard and ordinarily never thought of, it has 'hack value', as my lunch companions immediately recognized. Playfully doing something difficult, whether useful or not, that is hacking."

gradstudent2 · 2012-04-19 · Original thread
This article is so far off the mark. A better source is Richard Stallman's (often called the last hacker) on this: . An even better source is Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution . Either way, it's clear that hacking is related to computers but one need not be using computers to hack. In fact, the word hacker comes from modifying the system at the MIT Tech Model Railroad Club. While hacking is widely associated with computers, I think it is better described as a playful attitude towards objects and materials which takes into account the "hacker ethic."
mindcrime · 2010-12-20 · Original thread
I don't necessarily know of any one book that meets all of your friends requirements, but...

Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine might be good for your friend.

Another good option might be Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold.

Or, how about Coders at Work?

Another one that I have (but haven't had time to read yet) is Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg. It might have something that your friend would find interesting.

Another one that may be inspirational, although it's more about personalities than computer science per-se, would be Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.

davi · 2010-01-19 · Original thread
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, by Steven Levy

Stories from early in the personal computer era. This book inspired me greatly when I read it as a high school sophomore. After reading it, I taught myself Pascal (that dates me -- I guess this was in 1989) and started making little drawing programs on our old Fat Mac.

At this point it's an old book, but it's still in print, and the profiles in it are pretty timeless.

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