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The word "hacker" was originally defined as a person who tries to find clever uses or explore the full possibilities of the subject; one who "loves to program; enjoys playful cleverness, or a combination of two.". While hacking sometimes implied breaking security or violating the law, this was rarely the case.
The mainstream media, on the other hand, uses the word "hacker" specifically to mean those breaking into computer systems or Internet servers (which the original hackers tend to call "crackers" instead).