Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Legends of the Tech Industry

Okay, this post is not specific to Windows or IR, but I wanted to mention this...

Ever since I was in graduate school, I've been interested in the real stories behind the legends of the technology industry. Actually, it really goes back further than that to when I was in high school...my calculus teacher held Grace Hopper as her personal hero. Skip forward 10 years and I'm in grad school walking by Gary Kildall's former office every day.

I could keep rattling off names, but I wanted to share something that I had read yesterday...this online article from WSJ.com about John Draper, aka "Cap'n Crunch". I first saw the article linked from SlashDot just by chance, and I found the article itself to be fascinating. I happened to catch John on IM and he asked me for my opinion about the article. I told him what I thought, and by that time, he'd gotten started on his day so his thoughts were "mixed". Regardless of what the author of the article chose to point out and how he chose to protray John, I do think that it was a good thing that Steve Wozniak was quoted and that John's relationship with both "The Woz" and Steve Jobs was at least pointed out.

I think it's cool to be able to get the "inside scoop" as it were, to be able to pierce the veil of mystery (and misinformation) that is put up around people like John, Woz, etc., by the media. Whether it's an article, a book, or a movie, there's always something that was misinterpretted or simply done wrong to make the piece suitable for public consumption. Also, it's good to get another perspective on some of the events in history. Very cool.

6 comments:

iamnowonmai said...

The article was /.ed as well. As is typical for that crowd, there were some pretty unkind comments in there.

In my generation, hackers wanted to be as good as him, now he has been thrown under the bus as hopelessly retro.

I guess the same thing is starting to happen to Mitnick...

Keydet89 said...

The article was /.ed as well

Right, that's where I first saw it...I first saw the article linked from SlashDot...

...now he has been thrown under the bus as hopelessly retro...

Yes, I did think it was odd to point out all of the less-than-positive things about John's life at this point, but what I did pick up on is Woz's quote about John being "happy". I see that as a positive thing, regardless of all the attention given to John living his life in a way that's different from many of us.

I guess the same thing is starting to happen to Mitnick...

I'm not sure that you can say that. While admittedly John did make inappropriate use of the phone systems, Mr. Mitnick didn't really create anything (not to my knowledge, anyway, based on everything I've read...please correct me if that's not the case).

iamnowonmai said...

I'm not sure that you can say that. While admittedly John did make inappropriate use of the phone systems, Mr. Mitnick didn't really create anything (not to my knowledge, anyway, based on everything I've read...please correct me if that's not the case).

No - I don't mean that Mitnick and Crunch are alike - I just mean that 10 years ago Mitnick was all the rage like Crunch was circa 1977. His stock is slipping. Younger people tend to think he is "lame" if they have ever heard of him, that is.

Jon said...

keydet89: Thank you for the posting. Seeing the article about John Draper/Capt'n Crunch brought back memories of another era.I am glad to see he's still around and wish him well.

iamnowonmai: I see what you mean; thanks for the clarification. Maybe one of the factors, not an excuse, for the disregard for the older generations of hackers is the difficulty imagining what the networks and system were like "back then" and how remarkable the old timers' exploration was.

But then how many of my generation appreciate Charles Babbage and Lady Ada Lovelace for their Victorian Era hacking. :)

Keydet89 said...

Jon,

Ah, yes, the names of old. When I was in grad school, the CS dept required Ada as the programming language everyone had to learn. Thankfully, I was in EE...

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