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Hackers by Steven Levy

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Chapter 14. The Wizard and the Princess

Driving northeast out of Fresno on Route 41 toward the South Gate of Yosemite, you climbed slowly at first, through low fields dotted with huge, pitted boulders. About forty miles out was the town of Coarsegold; soon after, the road rose steeply, topping a mountain called Deadwood. Only after beginning the descent from Deadwood did one see how Route 41 formed the center strip of Oakhurst. Population under six thousand. A modern poly-mart named Raley’s (everything from health foods to electric blankets). A few fast-food joints, several clusters of specialty stores, two motels, and a real-estate office with a faded brown fiberglass statue of a bear outside it. After a mile or so of Oakhurst, the road continued its climb to Yosemite, thirty miles away.

The bear could talk. Push a button on its base, and you got a low, growling welcome to Oakhurst, a pitch on the price of land. The bear did not mention the transformation of the town by the personal computer. Oakhurst had seen hard times, but in 1982 it boasted one major success story. A company built, in a sense, by the hacker dream, and made possible only by the wizardry of Steve Wozniak and his Apple Computer. A company that symbolized how the products of hacking—computer programs which are works of art—had been recognized as such in significant sectors of the real world. The hackers who played Spacewar at MIT did not envision it, but the offspring of that PDP-1 program, now that the hardware ...

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