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I wrote the first version of ``A Brief History of Hackerdom'' in 1996 as a web resource. I had been fascinated by hacker culture as a culture for many years, since long before I edited the first edition of The New Hacker's Dictionary in 1990. By late 1993, many people (including myself) had come to think of me as the hacker culture's tribal historian and resident ethnographer. I was comfortable in that role.
At that time, I hadn't the faintest idea that my amateur anthropologizing could itself become a significant catalyst for change. I think nobody was more surprised than I when that happened. But the consequences of that surprise are still reverberating through the hacker culture and the technology and business worlds today.
In this essay, I'll recapitulate from my personal point of view the events that immediately led up to the January 1998 ``shot heard `round the world'' of the open-source revolution. I'll reflect on the remarkable distance we've come since. Then I will tentatively offer some projections into the future.