Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT

In association with, we are pleased to present Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT by institute historian T. F. Peterson and Eric Bender.

This book, published by the MIT Press, examines jokes and hacks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from funny to sad to downright incredible.

ISBN-10: 0262515849
ISBN-13: 978-0262515849

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Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT

When you have the smartest students in the world gathered at one school, you’re going to have history’s smartest pranks. Take a look inside the hacks and tricks MIT students have put on for decades in this handsome paperback book.

Book reviews

By Roy Christopher, reviewer:

“Long before the term ‘hacking’ was associated with computers (and pejoratively by the popular press), it was an MIT institution. MIT undergrads used the term to describe any activity that took their minds off studying and stress. In Nightwork, the best of the best of the history of MIT hacks is documented, photographed, and explained in great detail.
Some of the best (and most visible) hacks at MIT involve The Great Dome. For instance, to celebrate the 2001 release of the movie The Lord of the Rings, MIT hackers made a gold ring around the dome with red Elvish script, “authentically inscribed with Tolkien’s text.” In the same spirit in 1999, two days before the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the dome was made up to look like R2D2.
Nightwork covers these more obvious hacks as well as the long history of pranks at MIT dating back to the 1940s: Interesting Hacks To Fascinate People. And lest the reader think this is all just mindless fun, a collection of explanatory and philosophical essays is also included.
Even if you’re not a hacker or a prankster yourself, hack your bookshelf with Nightwork.

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Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT is not affiliated with the Cambridge University Press.