The MacHax Best Hack ContestSM
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The MacHax™ Group

Buy the 2003 Best Hack CD! and read more about the 2003 contest.

Buy the 2002 Best Hack CD! and read more about the 2002 contest.

See the 2001 Best Hack ballot!

See the 2000 Best Hack ballot!

See the 1999 Best Hack press release and ballot

See the 1998 Best Hack press release and ballot

See the 1997 Best Hack Ballot (sorry, it seems to have gone AWOL, but read this delightful account anyway!)

See the 1996 Best Hack Ballot

See what Dr. Dobb's had to say about the 1995 MacHack.

Would you forgo sleep for three days for a chance to own the coveted Victor rAt-Trap?

Many tried.
Many tired.
Few prevailed.
A good time for all!

We created the Hack Contest in 1986 at the 2nd Annual MacHack Conference. Since the very first contest, participants have thrown themselves into the fray with abandon. We often hear things like, "I've never worked so hard to achieve so little, and I've never had a better time!"

Back in 1986, we asked MacHack attendees to bring out their strangest creations. Anything created in the previous year was eligible. Anything created during MacHack was even better. Team efforts were encouraged.

When asked, "What do we get if we win?" we responded with "fame, fortune, and the admiration of your peers." We also offered to throw in some cheap prizes.

Were we telling the truth? You be the judge. Here are some of the winners, and their stories:

Allan Foster, Winner 1988
Allan came from relative obscurity to win the very first Hack Contest with RearWindow. He had read about the contest and decided that winning it was what he had to do to get known. RearWindows' technology eventually went into the System 7 Finder, and then into Macintosh Drag & Drop. Allan's win led to him working closely with a number of groups at Apple, as well as with companies like Symantec, Metrowerks, Software Ventures, and others. Allan is now the President of Guru, Inc.

Dean Yu, Winner 1990
Dean won the Hack Contest with NetBunny. Not long after that, he joined The Blue Meanies, a much-reviled (or was that 'revered'?) group responsible for sticking their noses into other engineers' business on the System 7 project. Dean has gone on to greatness at General Magic and subsequent ventures.

Mike Neil, Winner 1992
Mike cleaned up, garnering more votes than any previous winner. His hack, IR Man™, got him a rousing standing ovation, and an interview which led to a position in Apple's Developer Technical Support group, a position as the "cleaner" for a now-cancelled Apple system software release, a Virtual PC engineer, and other fascinating jobs.

Quinn, Iron Hacker 2002
Quinn used FireWire to heat things up with his hack FireStarter. Without requiring any preinstalled software on the unsuspecting target machine, Quinn lit up the crowd by plugging in a FireWire cable and starting an animated fire on the screen.

Here's an observation from an Apple bigshot:

"Another contribution to the Macintosh community is the Hack contest. I imagine you think it is only a lark, but I believe that it gives focus and a sense of cameradrie to the sessions that simply wouldn't be achieved with dry talks and panels. The electricity in the machine rooms between all those developers, busily writing away, arguing with Allan Foster as they take a break, or kibitzing with each other as they look each other's work over is absolutely precious. I believe these people reconfirm themselves as a community during those times. They will support each other's efforts, and the Mac as a product, after these all night sessions. The contest provides a funny sort of glue that strikes exactly the correct note. It takes a lot of work to pull that off so funky/elegantly. Thanks very much."

We always get questions about rules. Some people love rules, and just can't live without 'em. OK, here's some rules then.
  • Any entry must have been written some time during the last year. It's ok to enter a revised version of something shown in a previous year.
  • Supplying source code will get you more votes.
  • All hacks shown will be included on the conference CD (unless you can give us a really good reason to exclude it).
  • Participating is more fun than sitting in the viewing audience.
  • Working in a team is often more fun, and can result in some long-lasting friendships and working relationships. How else do you figure you can join the SmartFriends(tm) network?
  • As you may have noticed, we don't have many rules. Go forth and hack!

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