Over at The Verge, our pal RU Sirius writes about the history of "cypherpunk," a term coined in 1992 by legendary hacker St. Jude Milhon (RIP), and now used by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the title of his new book, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet. From RU's piece at The Verge:
(EFF co-founder) John Gilmore summed up the accomplishments of the cypherpunks in a recent email: "We did reshape the world," he wrote. "We broke encryption loose from government control in the commercial and free software world, in a big way. We built solid encryption and both circumvented and changed the corrupt US legal regime so that strong encryption could be developed by anyone worldwide and deployed by anyone worldwide," including WikiLeaks.
As the 1990s rolled forward, many cypherpunks went to work for the man, bringing strong crypto to financial services and banks (on the whole, probably better than the alternative). Still, crypto-activism continued and the cypherpunk mailing list blossomed as an exchange for both practical encryption data and spirited, sometimes-gleeful argumentation, before finally peaking in 1997. This was when cypherpunk's mindshare seemed to recede, possibly in proportion to the utopian effervescence of the early cyberculture. But the cypherpunk meme may now be finding a sort of rebirth in one of the biggest and most important stories in the fledgeling 21st century.