Computers: Let Us Now Praise Famous Hackers

A new view of some much maligned electronic pioneers

Legend at M.I.T. has it that one night in the mid-'50s some students paid a clandestine visit to Cambridge's Kendall Square subway station, where they quietly spread grease all over the tracks. The next morning, the first train that pulled into the station hit the grease and skidded right through the other side, taking its passengers to an unscheduled stop in the middle of a darkened tunnel. When the motorman backed up to see what had happened, the train slid through the station in the...

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