Hackers that use their skills for good are classified as "white hat." These white hats often work as certified "Ethical Hackers," hired by companies to test the integrity of their systems. Others, operate without company permission by bending but not breaking laws and in the process have created some really cool stuff. In this section we profile five white hat hackers and thetechnologies they have developed.
1. Stephen Wozniak: "Woz" is famous for being the "other Steve" of Apple. Wozniak, along with current Apple CEO Steve Jobs, co-founded Apple Computer. He has been awarded with the National Medal of Technology as well as honorary doctorates from Kettering University and Nova Southeastern University. Additionally, Woz was inducted into the National Inventors Hallof Fame in September 2000.
Woz got his start in hacking making blue boxes, devices that bypass telephone-switching mechanisms to make free long-distance calls. After reading an article about phone phreaking in Esquire, Wozniak called up his buddy Jobs. The pair did research on frequencies, then built and sold blue boxes to their classmates in college. Wozniak even used a blue box to call thePope while pretending to be Henry Kissinger.
Wozniak dropped out of college and came up with the computer that eventually made him famous. Jobs had the bright idea to sell the computer as a fully assembled PC board. The Steves sold Wozniak's cherished scientific calculator and Jobs' VW van for capital and got to work assembling prototypes in Jobs' garage. Wozniak designed the hardware and most ofthe software. In the Letters section of Woz.org, he recalls doing "what Ed Roberts and Bill Gates and Paul Allen did and tons more, with no help." Wozniak and Jobs sold the first 100 of the Apple I to a local dealer for $666.66 each.
Woz no longer works full time for Apple, focusing primarily on philanthropy instead. Most notable is his function as fairy godfather to the Los Gatos, Calif. SchoolDistrict. "Wozniak 'adopted' the Los Gatos School District, providing students and teachers with hands-on teaching and donations of state-of-the-art technology equipment."
2. Tim Berners-Lee: Berners-Lee is famed as the inventor of the World Wide Web, the system that we use to access sites, documents and files on the Internet. He has received numerous recognitions, most notably the MillenniumTechnology Prize.
While a student at Oxford University, Berners-Lee was caught hacking access with a friend and subsequently banned from University computers. w3.org reports, "Whilst [at Oxford], he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television." Technological innovation seems to have run in his genes, as Berners-Lee's parents weremathematicians who worked on the Manchester Mark1, one of the earliest electronic computers.
While working with CERN, a European nuclear research organization, Berners-Lee created a hypertext prototype system that helped researchers share and update information easily. He later realized that hypertext could be joined with the Internet. Berners-Lee recounts how he put them together: "I just had to take thehypertext idea and connect it to the TCP and DNS ideas and – ta-da! – the World Wide Web."
Since his creation of the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT. The W3C describes itself as "an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff and the public work together to develop Web standards." Berners-Lee's World Wide Web idea, as well asstandards from the W3C, is distributed freely with no patent or royalties due.
3. Linus Torvalds: Torvalds fathered Linux, the very popular Unix-based operating system. He calls himself "an engineer," and has said that his aspirations are simple, "I just want to have fun making the best damn operating system I can."
Torvalds got his start in computers with a Commodore VIC-20, an 8-bit home...