The History of H4X0R

I've read the Wikipedia version on the history of haxor (or leet as they call it) and it is so horribly inaccurate and not true to history that it deserves some repudiation. Some of the claims made in the Wikipedia article aren't even remotely possible given the technology at the time, let alone the mixture of the terms haxor, "LOL," and "BRB" (which didn't really gain popularity until IRC).

They do have a couple of things right. Most notably, haxor did start out with BBSes in the 80s. However, the term "haxor" didn't come around until the very, very late 80s or early 90s with the advent of the Internet. Before it was "l33t-speak" and before it was "haxor," it was K-rAd (or even /<-raD, capitalization didn't matter).

Wikipedia suggests rumors that it was created to hide conversations or topics from filters, but this couldn't be more untrue. There were no text filters at the time. USENet wasn't wildly popular and the largest message network around at the time was FIDONet. To my knowledge, there were no FIDONet text filter capabilities at ANY level and most definitely no text filters in the transport or hubs. The processing power to perform that level of filtering simply wasn't available at any reasonable price. FIDONet tossers had a hard enough time zipping and unzipping echomail packets without having to deal with overhead of message body scanning.

The 7-bit to 8-bit conversion


The simple fact is that as more 8-bit ASCII BBSes became available, there were 128 new characters available to use, and a whole bunch of people thought it was cool and new to utilize the high-bit (a.k.a. 8bit) ASCII character set. Voila... k-RaD was born. (K-raD = kilo rad... or radical * 1000 (it was the 80s... come'on))

It wasn't long before people started creating BBS handles with 8-bit characters and the high bit ASCII characters became more and more common in message posts. This new technology created a rift between the established BBSes (mostly 7-bit) who viewed these 8-bit characters popping up as annoying (or just a passing fad... like the Internet).

It wasn't long before 8-bit ASCII became the norm and "establishment" BBSes (yeah, that's a contradiction in terms) would ban people for using k-RaD in message posts. In the end, the warez and ANSI boards would be the k-RAd havens and the concept was turned into an art form. It wasn't until the mid to late 90s that multibyte characters became incredibly common (such as |_| to represent U or or |\/| to represent M). These multibyte characters were only used in k-Rad when there was no suitable high-bit ASCII character available. This usage is most likely a bastardization of using some of the ASCII line drawing characters, which, in a fixed width font, actually resemble the original (such as ├┤ vs. |-|). These types of translations didn't become prominent until IRC (which was 7bit if I remember correctly) and non-fixed width fonts became the norm as more text encoding shifted away from standard ASCII compliant terminals.

More importantly, the extended ASCII character set was not global. The set defined below was the defacto standard (it is what MS-DOS used), but globally, you couldn't trust those character mappings. With the Internet being a global network, k-rad faded away

Original k-RAD


Most original k-Rad characters aren't even easily usable in a web browser or modern applications, although they still work in a DOS window. If you open up up a DOS window, hold down the ALT key and type 194 on the numeric keypad, you'll end up with a K-rad 'T' character. ALT-159 was 'F', ALT-224 was "A", and so on. If you look at a full extended ASCII chart below, you can figure out the basic k-rAd mappings.

An example k-rad sentence: ┬HΣ qµì¢K ßΓΦw∩ ƒσX ⌡ÜmPεd σ√ΣΓ ┼HÉ └αzÿ dδG$

Modern haxor: 7|-|3 q|_|iCK 8r0\/\/n f0x J|_||\/|p3|) 0\/3r 7|-|3 l/-\zY |)0g5.

The Internet


With the Internet and the world wide web came a new influx of young people that didn't know history of k-rad, but naturally thought it was cool because it wasn't normal (the same reason K-rAd was cool originally). But browsers didn't support the same charsets as standard ASCII terminals. More importantly, fixed width fonts started aging. Times New Roman fonts became the standard since every windowing OS had that font. With variable width fonts and variable font spacing, k-raD finally died off and gave way to what we have now as the Internet's "leet-speek" and "haxor." After this point, it took on a life of its own. Prior to variable width fonts and multibyte haxor characters, it wasn't too difficult to read "haxor."

Today, haxor more commonly refers to text that is intentionally difficult to read for no purpose other than being intentionally difficult to read.

ALT-128 = Ç = &Ccedil;             ALT-192 = └ = &#9492;
ALT-129 = ü = &uuml;               ALT-193 = ┴ = &#9524;
ALT-130 = é = &eacute;             ALT-194 = ┬ = &#9516;
ALT-131 = â = &acirc;              ALT-195 = ├ = &#9500;
ALT-132 = ä = &auml;               ALT-196 = ─ = &#9472;
ALT-133 = à = &agrave;             ALT-197 = ┼ = &#9532;
ALT-134 = å = &aring;              ALT-198 = ╞ = &#9566;
ALT-135 = ç = &ccedil;             ALT-199 = ╟ = &#9567;
ALT-136 = ê = &ecirc;              ALT-200 = ╚ = &#9562;
ALT-137 = ë = &euml;               ALT-201 = ╔ = &#9556;
ALT-138 = è = &egrave;             ALT-202 = ╩ = &#9577;
ALT-139 = ï = &iuml;               ALT-203 = ╦ = &#9574;
ALT-140 = î = &icirc;              ALT-204 = ╠ = &#9568;
ALT-141 = ì = &igrave;             ALT-205 = ═ = &#9552;
ALT-142 = Ä = &Auml;               ALT-206 = ╬ = &#9580;
ALT-143 = Å = &Aring;              ALT-207 = ╧ = &#9575;
ALT-144 = É = &Eacute;             ALT-208 = ╨ = &#9576;
ALT-145 = æ = &aelig;              ALT-209 = ╤ = &#9572;
ALT-146 = Æ = &AElig;              ALT-210 = ╥ = &#9573;
ALT-147 = ô = &ocirc;              ALT-211 = ╙ = &#9561;
ALT-148 = ö = &ouml;               ALT-212 = ╘ = &#9560;
ALT-149 = ò = &ograve;             ALT-213 = ╒ = &#9554;
ALT-150 = û = &ucirc;              ALT-214 = ╓ = &#9555;
ALT-151 = ù = &ugrave;             ALT-215 = ╫ = &#9579;
ALT-152 = ÿ = &yuml;               ALT-216 = ╪ = &#9578;
ALT-153 = Ö = &Ouml;               ALT-217 = ┘ = &#9496;
ALT-154 = Ü = &Uuml;               ALT-218 = ┌ = &#9484;
ALT-155 = ¢ = &cent;               ALT-219 = █ = &#9608;
ALT-156 = £ = &pound;              ALT-220 = ▄ = &#9604;
ALT-157 = ¥ = &yen;                ALT-221 = ▌ = &#9612;
ALT-158 = ₧ = &#8359;              ALT-222 = ▐ = &#9616;
ALT-159 = ƒ = &#402;               ALT-223 = ▀ = &#9600;
ALT-160 = á = &aacute;             ALT-224 = α = &#945;
ALT-161 = í = &iacute;             ALT-225 = ß = &szlig;
ALT-162 = ó = &oacute;             ALT-226 = Γ = &#915;
ALT-163 = ú = &uacute;             ALT-227 = π = &#960;
ALT-164 = ñ = &ntilde;             ALT-228 = Σ = &#931;
ALT-165 = Ñ = &Ntilde;             ALT-229 = σ = &#963;
ALT-166 = ª = &ordf;               ALT-230 = µ = &micro;
ALT-167 = º = &ordm;               ALT-231 = τ = &#964;
ALT-168 = ¿ = &iquest;             ALT-232 = Φ = &#934;
ALT-169 = ⌐ = &#8976;              ALT-233 = Θ = &#920;
ALT-170 = ¬ = &not;                ALT-234 = Ω = &#937;
ALT-171 = ½ = &frac12;             ALT-235 = δ = &#948;
ALT-172 = ¼ = &frac14;             ALT-236 = ∞ = &#8734;
ALT-173 = ¡ = &iexcl;              ALT-237 = φ = &#966;
ALT-174 = « = &laquo;              ALT-238 = ε = &#949;
ALT-175 = » = &raquo;              ALT-239 = ∩ = &#8745;
ALT-176 = ░ = &#9617;              ALT-240 = ≡ = &#8801;
ALT-177 = ▒ = &#9618;              ALT-241 = ± = &plusmn;
ALT-178 = ▓ = &#9619;              ALT-242 = ≥ = &#8805;
ALT-179 = │ = &#9474;              ALT-243 = ≤ = &#8804;
ALT-180 = ┤ = &#9508;              ALT-244 = ⌠ = &#8992;
ALT-181 = ╡ = &#9569;              ALT-245 = ⌡ = &#8993;
ALT-182 = ╢ = &#9570;              ALT-246 = ÷ = &divide;
ALT-183 = ╖ = &#9558;              ALT-247 = ≈ = &#8776;
ALT-184 = ╕ = &#9557;              ALT-248 = ° = &deg;
ALT-185 = ╣ = &#9571;              ALT-249 = ∙ = &#8729;
ALT-186 = ║ = &#9553;              ALT-250 = · = &middot;
ALT-187 = ╗ = &#9559;              ALT-251 = √ = &#8730;
ALT-188 = ╝ = &#9565;              ALT-252 = ⁿ = &#8319;
ALT-189 = ╜ = &#9564;              ALT-253 = ² = &sup2;
ALT-190 = ╛ = &#9563;              ALT-254 = ■ = &#9632; 
ALT-191 = ┐ = &#9488;