It all began in the 1960s at MIT, origin of the term "hacker", where extremely skilled individuals practiced hardcore programming in FORTRAN and other older languages. Some may ignorantly dub them "nerds" or "geeks" but these individuals were, by far, the most intelligent, individual, and intellectually advanced people who happen to be the pioneers and forefathers of the talented individuals that are today the true hackers. The true hackers amongst our societies have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Boredom is never an object of challenge for hackers. They have an almost anomalous ability to absorb, retain, and exert vast amounts of knowledge with regard to intricate details. In 1969, Bell Labs employee Ken Thompson invented UNIX and permanently changed the future of the computer industry. Then in the very early 1970s, Dennis Ritchie invented the computer programming language "C" which was specifically invented to be used with UNIX. Programmers ceased to use assembler, while developing an appreciation for the portability of "C."
Hackers used to be viewed as people who sat locked in a room all day programming nonstop, hours on end. No one seemed to mind hackers back in the 1960s when this was the most widely excepted reputation. In fact, most people had no idea what hacking was. The term hacker was accepted as a positive label slapped onto computer gurus who could push computer systems beyond the defined limits. Hackers emerged out of the artificial intelligence labs at MIT in the 1960s. A network known as ARPANET was founded by the Department of Defense as a means to link government offices. In time, ARPANET evolved into what is today known as the Internet.
In the 1970s, "Captain Crunch" devised a way to make free long distance calls and groups of phone hackers, later dubbed "phreakers" emerged. Throughout the 1970s and halfway into the 1980s, XEROX's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) spit out fresh new innovations such as the laser printer and LANs.
During the early 1980s, the term "cyberspace" is coined from a novel called "Neuromancer." A group called the "414s" is one of the earliest hacker groups to ever get raided by the FBI and they get charged with 60 computer intrusions. Usenets began to pop up around the nation at this time and hackers exchanged thoughts using their UNIX based machines. While all of this was going on, the Secret Service was granted jurisdiction over credit card and computer fraud. During the 1980s, hacking was not known amongst the masses as it is presently. To be a hacker was to be a part of a very exclusive and secluded group. The infamous hacker groups the "Legion of Doom," based in the USA and the "Chaos Computer Club," based in Germany, were founded and are still two of the most widely recognized and respected hacker groups ever founded. Another significant foundation is that of "2600: The Hacker Quarterly," an old school hacker magazine or "zine." 2600 Magazine still continues to play a role in today's hacker community. As the end of the decade approached, Kevin Mitnick was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison on convictions of stealing software and damaging computers. In addition, federal officials raided Atlanta, where some members of the Legion of Doom were residing, at the time. The LOD, CCC, and 2600 Magazine have become known as old school hackers and are still widely respected and recognized.
During the 1990s, Kevin Mitnick is arrested after being tracked down by Tsutomu Shimomura. The trials of Kevin Mitnick were of the most publicized hacker trials in hacker history.