Reverse Engineering, hacking documentary series

Conference:  Defcon 26



The presentation discusses the history of American hacking from the late 50s to the early 90s and its impact on popular culture and technology. The presenters are seeking help in finding buried stories and unsung heroes from the era.
  • Hacking originated from electrical engineering students testing the boundaries of time-sharing machines in the 1960s at MIT and Stanford AI lab
  • The emergence of personal computers and modems in the 70s and 80s led to the growth of teen hacker cultures and the mainstreaming of the internet
  • The presenters are seeking help in finding buried stories and unsung heroes from the era
The presenter shares a personal anecdote about exploring other people's computer networks as a teenager in the 80s and the simpler times of hacking back then.


We will present a sample scene and panel talk on our documentary series Reverse Engineering to the hacking community, which has been in the works for 4 years. We have dozens of interviews spanning the first 3 decades of computer hacking, ultimately there will be hundreds. It's a big story, but for the purposes of DEF CON, we've put together a 17 min. Scene covering the 80s WarGames/Legion of Doom-era of computer hacking in the US. We've spoken to great people, but there are other viewpoints—this is a history that needs to be told by 1st person accounts. The accuracy and strength of our completed series is tantamount to the quality of who we interview and the questions that get asked. Accuracy is particularly important, there's been no shortage of media hype and lies regarding hacking since the 1980s. Our vision for this film series is inclusive and collaborative. We'd like to hear from attendees how to best tell the origin story of hacking to new generations, and more so the outside world who've been fed a lot of myths by the media. Those are the lawmakers and citizens of tomorrow that we need to reach. Little attention has been paid to the pioneering hacker spirit that has literally changed every aspect of life. We want to address and correct that.



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