Crime History, Jan. 8, 1986: Legion of Doom member pens ‘hacker manifesto’

On this day, Jan. 8, in 1986, a computer whiz in Texas wrote “The Conscience of a Hacker,” a manifesto that remains a cornerstone of the hacking culture nearly three-decades later.

The essay appeared in the underground Phrack magazine shortly after Loyd Blankenship, 23, was arrested for the theft of school computers. Blankenship’s piece, also known as the Hacker’s Manifesto, offered an early look into a hacker’s mind and motivations.Cyberpunk

“”Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto,” wrote Blankeship, under the pseudonym The Mentor.

On March 1, 1990, armed Secret Service agents stormed into Blankenship’s Austin home while other federal agents confiscated computers from his employer, Steve Jackson Games, a company that published which designs and published role play games.

Blankenship published on his electronic bulletin board a text file taken from the BellSouth telephone company, and federal investigators said he was working on a how-to guide for potential hackers, but it turned out to be a role playing game called Cyberpunks.

Blankenship was never charged with a crime, but the federal government kept his computer. Most of the hardware from Steve Jackson Games was returned years later, but some of it was damaged beyond repair. He was forced to layoff half his staff.

The Steve Jackson Games case drew national attention and led to the creation of Electronic Frontier Foundation, headed by prominent computer industry figures like Apple Computer co-founder Stephen Wozniak.

A federal court eventually ruled that the Secret Service violated freedom of speech and freedom of unreasonable search and seizures. The case turned out to be an important one in the development of a proper legal framework for cyberspace

Blankenship’s manifesto is referenced in the Academy Award winning movie “The Social Network” with a poster of the essay on Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room.

— Scott McCabe



  1. Reblogged this on

  2. Richard M Nixon (Deceased) says:

    Reblogged this on Dead Citizen's Rights Society.

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