The Null Device

In the Realm of the Hackers

Tonight I went to a screening of In the Realm of the Hackers, a documentary about various hackers/crackers from Melbourne in the late 1980s (apparently not just another BBS/h4x0d-d00d scene, but one of the major hacker nexuses in the world); in particular, about a young man calling himself Electron and his friends, who apparently broke into machines like nobody else. It was pretty interesting; the details, connecting the mundanity of suburban Melbourne with the international computer networks of the time, were fascinating, and the reconstructed Commodore 64/Apple II screens (rebuilt from police phone intercept transcripts) were apparently the most authentic in the genre. (I half-remember various of the names seen on the hacker BBS message boards, from print-outs I saw many years ago. Of course, I never was k3wl enough to actually do any of that hacking shit myself.) Anyway, it does one proud to see that Australia can lead the world in something other than cricket.

The film was based on the book Underground, by Suelette Dreyfus, which is now online in freely downloadable form. It sounds like it's well worth a read.

There are 6 comments on "In the Realm of the Hackers":

Posted by: Burgatron http:// Wed Mar 26 13:16:59 2003

I thought I recognised that story, I read that book a few years ago. Where was the movie screaned ? I'm interested to see if it's getting a general release, or will be shown up in Sydney

Posted by: Alex Wed Mar 26 13:49:29 2003

It was screened at the Nova in Lygon St, Melbourne. About as far from the clandestine meetingplaces mentioned in the film as you can get, I would imagine ... although the Blues Brothers Show mentioned in Underground is about to wind up in a couple of months ... better start hitting the Op Shops for a black coat and pants soon!

(Sorry I missed it, acb)

Posted by: acb Wed Mar 26 14:06:32 2003

Apparently the ABC plan to run it, but haven't scheduled it yet. (They're a bit iffy about documentaries using actors, and then there's the whole terrorism thing which is a bit touchy these days.)

Posted by: cnwb Thu Mar 27 02:04:52 2003

I missed it due to a lecture, but was hoping it'd get a run on TV. I'm curious to know what the audience was like; retro-hax0r types, or the usual Nova crew?

Posted by: acb Thu Mar 27 10:12:10 2003

There were a few slightly-overweight, black-leather-jacketed geek types talking in a group outside the Nova after the film. For a while it looked like a role-playing convention or something.

Posted by: retro-hax0r type http:// Tue Jun 17 04:48:27 2003

Well cnwb, when the doco was screened a couple of weeks ago on tv, it was enjoyed by a number of retro types who were around in those days :)