Fascinating obituary in the New York Times of Alan Kotok who helped develop the first video game:
As a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Kotok developed an interest in computers after joining the M.I.T. Model Railroad Club in the late 1950’s. Its membership included several other young men who shared his interest, and the organization became a kind of incubator for the computer design field.
The students were the original computer hackers, at least as they defined the term. Today it also refers to a computer outlaw, but the term originally described a member of a subculture of passionate hardware and software designers. A “hack” was a project without constructive end, according to a dictionary compiled by the Model Railroad members.