The joy (and profits) of hacking

GCN Insider | How much is the time of a hacker barely out of high school worth?

George Hotz is the poster boy for hackers: a teenager with unruly hair who spent the summer before his freshman year at the Rochester Institute of Technology breaking into his new Apple iPhone so he could unlock it from AT&T's network. He estimates he spent about 500 hours on the project with the help of three online contributors.

His parents probably wished he would get a job rather than spend the summer in his bedroom taking apart a cell phone. But he did all right for himself. He originally tried selling the phone on eBay, but that didn't work out.

'I was forced to end the listing early due to a total lack of cooperation,' he wrote on his blog in late August. So he asked bidders to contact him directly with offers. He was upfront about the phone's value. 'If you are only bidding on this to get an unlocked iPhone, don't. There are much cheaper and easier ways to get one. This is a piece of cell phone history.'

Then Hotz announced Aug. 25 that he had traded the iPhone in response to a call from Terry Daidone, founder of Certicell, a seller of refurbished phones. 'I traded it for a sweet Nissan 350Z and three 8G iPhones.' The three phones will be going to his online collaborators. Hotz is keeping the car.

So how much is the time of a hacker barely out of high school worth? Depending on the exact model of car he gets, it comes to between $55.80 and $80.50 an hour. Not bad for a summer job. And he already had more work lined up by the time he got settled in at RIT.

'I will be doing consulting work for Certicell and Puremobile in the little bit of free time I have,' he wrote Aug. 27. 'My project for now is a [Global Positioning System] for the iPhone that uses triangulation from the cell phone towers.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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