the world’s greatest hackers?

the Amish People are the  world’s most ingenuous hackers.

The Amish stress humility, familyand community, and separation from the world. This community of people turned the world’s best  ‘hackers’ and ‘tinkers’ in their urge to stay off the grid of power and to avoid technology! How they managed to stay away from modern technology by adopting their own means is what I discovered at Kevin’s. Read on.

Amish Power!

These guys do not use electricity! Their religion forbids it.  Find out how they transform conventional electrical appliances to pneumatic devices at Kevin’s.

…a huge dump-truck-sized diesel generator sits…In addition to a gas engine there is a very large tank, which I learn, stores compressed air. The diesel engine burns fuel to drive the compressor that fills the reservoir with pressure. From the tank a series of high-pressure pipes snake off toward every corner of the factory. A hard rubber flexible hose connects each tool to a pipe. The entire shop runs on compressed air… on pneumatic power. Amos even shows me a pneumatic switch, which you can flick like a light switch, to turn on some paint-drying fans. The Amish call this pneumatic system “Amish electricity.” At first pneumatics were devised for Amish workshops, but it was seen as so useful that air-power migrated to Amish households. In fact there is an entire cottage industry in retrofitting tools and appliances to Amish electricity. The retrofitters buy a heavy-duty blender, say, and yank out the electrical motor. They then substitute an air-powered motor of appropriate size, add pneumatic connectors, and bingo, your Amish mom now has a blender in her electrical-less kitchen

I visited one retrofit workshop run by a strict Mennonite. Marlin was a short beardless man (no beards for the Mennonites). He uses a horse and buggy, has no phone, but electricity runs in the shop behind his home. They use electricity to make pneumatic parts. Like most of his community, his kids work along side him. A few of his boys use a propane powered fork lift with metal wheels (no rubber so you can’t drive it on the road) to cart around stacks of heavy metal as they manufacture very precise milled metal parts for pneumatic motors and for kerosene cooking stoves, an Amish favorite. The tolerances needed are a thousand of an inch. So a few years ago they installed a massive, $400,000 computer-controlled milling (CNC) machine in his backyard, behind the horse stable. This massive half-million dollar tool is about the dimensions of a delivery truck. It is operated by his 14-year old daughter, in a bonnet. With this computer controlled machine she makes parts for grid-free horse and buggy living.

Who are the Amish people?

Amish and Mennonite people are Protestants that believe in returning to the purity of New Testament teachings. They differ in matters of dress, technology, language, form of worship, and interpretation of the Bible from the mainstream Christians.

They trace their origin from the old European Protestant Reformation. Having rejected baptism at birth they came to be known as Anabaptist.

Where would you find them mostly in the US and Canada today?

Today, the Amish can be found in 23 states in the US and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, the total population being around 85, 000.

How did the Amish population get concentrated at Pennsylvania?

The Anabaptist groups were severely persecuted throughout Europe. Thousands were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants. To avoid this persecution many fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than in churches.

Many Amish and Mennonites accepted William Penn’s offer of religious freedom as part of Penn’s “holy experiment” of religious tolerance. They settled in what later became known as Pennsylvania. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in Lancaster County in the 1720’s or 1730’s.

How do the Amish people dress?

Amish Women dont Wear Jewellery

Amish Women dont Wear Jewellery

Old Order Amish women and girls wear modest dresses made from solid-colored fabric with long sleeves and a full skirt (not shorter than half-way between knee and floor). These dresses are covered with a cape and an apron. They never cut their hair and on their heads wear a white prayer covering if they are married and a black one if they are single.

Their wedding dress would typically be a shade of blue or purple. The wedding party will not carry flowers, and the bride wears high topped shoes; instead of veil there is a cape or black covering for her head to differentiate from what she would wear daily. They will be buried in this same dress when they die.

Men and boys wear dark-colored suits, straight-cut coats without lapels.  Their shirts fasten with conventional buttons but their coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes! they do not have mustaches, but grow a beard when they marry.

Why do they dress this way?

The Amish feel this way of dressing encourage humility and separation from the world. Their clothing is not costume; it is an expression of their faith.

Amish quilts are famous. Women gather to make quilts in what is called a quilting bee, it is a way of socializing to unwind and share their daily lives with each other. Here you would find a whole listing for where to buy Amish quilts in the US,  pictures and everything you need to know about quilts.

Kevin again:

The Amish are steadily adopting technology — at their pace. They are slow geeks. As one Amish man told Howard Rheingold, “We don’t want to stop progress, we just want to slow it down,” But their manner of slow adoption is instructive.

  • 1) They are selective. They know how to say “no” and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
  • 2) They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
  • 3) They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
  • 4) The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.

This method works for the Amish, but can it work for the rest of us?

For more you can visit : or

4 thoughts on “the world’s greatest hackers?

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