By Wendy M. Grossman
14 December 2008
IT'S ABOUT 20 years since a how-to computer book called The Hacker's
Handbook hit the bookstores. At the time, everyone knew that the author,
Hugo Cornwall, was a skinny teen with a bad complexion and worse social
skills who lived in a bedsit filled with half-empty pizza boxes. The
journalist from the Sunday Times who went to meet him was sure of it.
And instead she found...a somewhat older guy living in a moderately
prosperous middle-class house full of books. His real name: Peter
The key moments in Sommer's career all seem to have come over lunch. It
was at a lunch that he became Hugo Cornwall. At another, having just
completed a law degree at Oxford, he instead launched a career as a
publisher. Over a third, Ian Angell signed him up to teach in the
information systems integrity group at the London School of Economics.
"It hasn't been complete drift," he says. "I've always made choices."
Sommer got interested very early in the bulletin board systems of the
1980s, the kind of thing that ran off a Commodore Pet over dial-up.
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