A civil rights activist, feminist and hacker, Jude Milhon is another of the women who have left their indelible mark on the history of computing around the world. Jude was a myth in life, to the point of being known as “Sta. Jude, the patron saint of hackers ”.

Cknown as "The holy protector of hackers" o St. JudeJude Milhon was born on March 12, 1939, in Washington DC She was a renowned programmer, activist and defender of privacy rights on the web. She was one of the first women to make herself known in the world of cyberspace.

Most of his childhood and adolescence lived in Anderson, Indiana. There, Milhon would take her first steps as a civil rights activist and fighter, to later become a prolific hacker and digital rights activist.

Beginning of your activism

From her adolescence Milhon was closely related to activism in favor of civil rights. Circumstances, which caused him several arrests by the police. However, this did not stop his actions, which began to have greater relevance during the time of the Civil Rights Movements in the United States.

At that time, Milhon's fighting spirit was very impetuous, so he entered directly as a participant in the movement. This is how in 1960, Milhon was the organizer of the march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. She later participated in the Jackson, Mississippi protest, where she was again arrested for civil disobedience.

When he was released from prison, Milhon still maintained his activist attitude, but he also became interested in technological development. This would then lead her to transfer all her character defending civil rights to the digital plane that was beginning to be born in society.

Digital programming and activism

In 1967, Milhon began her first steps as a programmer. Milhon, totally self-taught, learned to program in the Fortran language. All this thanks to a book titled "Teach Yourself Fortran". At the time, Milhon was one of the few women with programming skills. The first time he applied his knowledge, it was in the programming of vending machines working in Horn & Hardart.

However, Milhon would observe that the computer world was very hermetic. Directed primarily by the military and academic centers, computing was an unknown world. Before this, Milhon began to organize together with Lee Felsenstein, Efrem lipkin, Ken colstadand Mark Szpakowski, the world's first digital community, Community Memory.

Community Memory It became the first public computerized bulletin board system in 1973. This would later become an unprecedented digital information sharing system for the entire user community that accessed it.

With the advancement of computer technology, Milhon's contributions became increasingly relevant. After the departure of the first systems BSD in 1977, Milhon was one of the coders benchmarks in community development of the same. Milhon's work at Comunnity Memory offered him the skills necessary to program for BSD.

In 1982, Jude Milhon joined the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility - CPSR. There he played an important role as an activist, advocating for the opening of knowledge of computing and cyberspace networks. Milhon's involvement in this group focused on projects Privaterra y CFP.

Writings, cypherpunks and important works

Already in the 90s, Milhon observed how the globalized world was getting closer and closer. The Internet was an early reality, with many possibilities, and in order to help exploit it to the fullest, Milhon dedicated himself to writing. To sign the authorship of his works, Jude Milhon used the alias “St. Jude ”, the same nick with which she was known in the hacker community.

It was in this period, around the early 90s, that Milhon coined the term cypherpunk, to name the movement that brought together the defenders of digital privacy. The concept of cypherpunk was a play on words that Milhon invented by mixing the concept of cyberpunk (which she loved so much) and the concept of 'cipher' (encryption key).

En 1994 publishes one of his first books was Hacking the Wetware: The NerdGirl's Pillow Book (Hacking the Wet Net: The Young Nerd's Bedside Book) It was a guide that sought to transform women into happy hackers by demystifying the functioning of the body and the brain.

“This book uses sexual themes to seduce you, while subtly preparing you to think like a hacker. You think, therefore you hack ... it is a guide to personal transformation "

Jude Milhon

En 1995 publish the book Cyberpunk Handbook: The Real Cyberpunk Fakebook, (The false manual of cyberpunk) an authentic fake guide for cyberpunks, written with humor, irony and a closeness and depth that transcends previous works on this genre.

En 1997 publish How to Mutate & Take Over the World: an Exploded Post-Novel (How to mutate and dominate the world) This book is written with RUSirius (with whom he also wrote Cyberpunk Handbook) and as in the previous one, irony and humor are perceived from the synopsis and the prologue.

Together with Sirius he founded and edited the magazine of technological and anarchic culture 2000 world. During this time, Milhon would also become an expert web programmer.

All these works earned him various interviews and spaces where he could present his ideas. In a 1995 interview by Wired, Milhon would say one of the phrases that would most clearly define his thinking: "Girls need modems".

Your latest hacking notes and actions

During the last years of his life, Jude Milhon dedicated himself to protecting privacy and promoting hacking in the world. For this he kept the magazine de 2000 world until its end in 1998 and also participated in the magazine Boing Boing y Wired.

Milhon's life would come to an end in 2003 because of cancer. His departure caused a profound response from the hacker community worldwide.

After his death, Wired dedicated the following title to his magazine: "Hackers have lost their holy protector". A singular saint out of the ordinary: a great hacker, feminist and cyber rights activist, an exception in a space still dominated by men.