BBC: "The original meaning of the word "hack" was born at
MIT, and originally meant an elegant, witty or inspired
way of doing almost anything.
Many early hacks took the form of elaborate practical
jokes. In 1994, MIT students put a convincing replica of
a campus police car on top of the Institute's Great
Now the meaning has changed to become something of
a portmanteau term associated with the breaking into or
harming of any kind of computer or telecommunications
Purists claim that those who break into computer
systems should be properly called "crackers" and those
targeting phones should be known as "phreaks".