The Good Hacker: The Wonderful Life and Strange Death of Barnaby Jack

Sammi Jack remembers her son’s fifth-form maths teacher pointing to his desk in the classroom at Auckland Grammar during a 1993 parent-teacher interview. “That’s where your son sits, physically,” he said. “Where his mind is, I have no idea, because it’s not in this classroom.”

Unrecognised genius is a label desired by many but visited on few. Months later, Barnes was expelled for repeated truancy. He spent the last of his school days at Selwyn College, where his mind was still, determinedly, not in the classroom but in the makeshift lab in his bedroom. Here he drank Coke, ate two-minute noodle sandwiches and took computers apart to see how they worked.