There's no doubt that a software project won't succeed without the right programming superstars. Paul Graham calls those superstars hackers and has been thinking about what hackers have in common.

When this article first appeared, it was enormously controversial, mainly because Paul implies that anyone who programs in Java or who writes code for Windows could not possibly be a good hacker. I disagree with that observation strongly; I guess Paul doesn't know the same people I know. The great hackers I know are also the smartest students, so they go to top schools, where they learn Unix, which they tend to prefer out of familiarity. And many people use Visual Basic or Java because they're not great hackers and those ...

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