n. A computer hacker who performs illegal or unethical activities.
To computing's elite, the hacker's code might be summarized as, 'Figure out, look around, leave no trace.' Hackers look down on their deliberately malicious counterparts, whom they call 'crackers.' The latter, hackers say, give a proud tradition a bad name.
—Paul Andrews, “Hackers: Who Are These Guys?,” The Seattle Times, February 22, 1996
But if discouraging hackers is hard, catching them in the act of phone fraud can be even harder. Many hackers — or "crackers," as they now like to be called — route their calls through one long-distance service after another trying to make them more difficult to trace, criss-crossing MCI, Sprint and other services in one bewildering maze.
—William D. Marbach, et al., “The Phoniest Phone Bills,” Newsweek, March 26, 1984
1983 (earliest)
It's obvious that we need some name for those who break the security of computer systems, to fight the pernicious media which are trying to defame the noble word "hacker", meaning one who is spends a lot of time programming. It is worthy of note that the set of hackers is pretty much of a superset of the former crowd.

We need this to be a word which is usable by those in the media, that is, three or fewer syllables. "Security breaker" is right out. The word must also be sufficiently distinctive to have that "appeal" that is so important to commercial television. Maybe we should just call them "thieves", but it just ain't snazzy, nor does it distinguish them from normal thieves.

I am too busy to coordinate the responses, so either post them to the net or volunteer to coordinate it yourself. Here are a few to get started:

—Tim Maroney, “Re: Changing meaning of term 'hacker',” net.misc, September 14, 1983
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