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A person who writes programs in assembly language or in system-level
languages, such as C. Although it may refer to any programmer, it
implies very tedious "hacking away" at the bits and bytes.
Although it takes only a little knowledge to gain unauthorized
entrance into most computers to extract information and/or perform
some prank or mischief at the site, the term has unfortunately become
synonymous in the popular press with "cracker," a person who performs
an illegal act. This use of the term is not appreciated by the
overwhelming majority of hackers who are honest professionals. See
cracker, hack, samurai and script kiddie.
Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing
A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems
and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who
prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.
One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys
programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
A person capable of appreciating hack value.
A person who is good at programming quickly.
An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work
using it or on it; as in "a Unix hacker". (Definitions 1 through 5 are
correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)
An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy
hacker, for example.
One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming
or circumventing limitations.