The Movie Hackers is 20 Years Old and I Still Love It

Every day there’s a new post on Reddit / Hacker News / Twitter / Bloop / Slammy / Buzzfeed about how some thing that we all loved has a nice round birthday and today it was “Hackers”. The cult class is 20 years old. Crazy. I’ve probably watched that movie 100+ times over the last 20 years.

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People love to rag on “Hackers” (and really all movies that have computing as a central theme) because it’s outdated or “That’s not how it really works!” As if someone had to be told that when you “hack the Gibson” your computer didn’t spontaneously start tripping balls with crazy colors and lasers shooting all over the place. Doesn’t matter to me now and I didn’t matter to me 20 years ago. The fact is “Hackers” played a pretty big role in where I am today with computers being a massive portion of my life. I always loved my parents computer(s) but 20 years ago, at the ripe old age of 14, I wanted to be a doctor. More specifically, a surgeon. Even more specifically, a cardiovascular surgeon. It didn’t really even occur to me that “playing on the computer” was something more than a hobby. We had the internet (free dial-up text-only service provided by the local library) that I was on constantly, but it wasn’t like it is today where 5 seconds of Google can convince anyone that any random thought they have is shared by thousands of others. Watching “Hackers” was a revelation, talking about it with other kids at school was that x10. I want to do this! All the time! In short, “Hackers” made me, and many many others, realize that knowing about computers was cool. Sure it was 1995 and we still had a few years until “The Social Network” made it more cool, but Dade and the rest of the characters were very cool. The soundtrack was cool. Rollerblading down the street while your pre-programmed traffic light hack suddenly activated was cool. Close enough.

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I remember reading txt files from whocanremember.com about how a computer virus works (made my dad nervous when he heard me talking about it to a friend). A year later I was hand copying the source code of TI-83 games in to my calculator (I couldn’t afford the crazy expensive transfer cable) and after all that tedious work I was quickly realizing what lines I needed to modify to make a different version of the game. It wasn’t long after that, while being very frustrated by my terrible chemistry teacher, that my mom suggested that maybe I think about studying Computer Science in college. Now, roughly 16 years later, I’m 12 years in to a successful career in computers, and I’ve got big plans to watch “Hackers”, for the 101st? 150th? 200th? 300? time later tonight. This time in 720p!

…and I’m still struggling to come up with a better handle than “Zero Cool”.

Required “Hackers” reading / viewing:

‘Hackers’ at 20 @ passcode.csmonitor.com

“Hackers” @ artofthetitle.com

The “Hackers” Trailer