Hard “bread/biscuit” sense first attested in 1739, though “hard wafer” sense attested since 1440.
Computing senses of cracker, crack, and cracking were promoted in the 1980s as an alternative to hacker, by programmers concerned about negative public associations of hack, hacking. See Citations:cracker.
Various theories exist regarding the term's application to poor white Southerners. One theory holds that it originated with disadvantaged corn and wheat farmers (corn-cracker), who cracked their crops rather than taking them to the mill. Another theory asserts that it was applied due to Georgia and Florida settlers (Florida crackers) who cracked loud whips to drive herds of cattle, or, alternatively, from the whip cracking of plantation slave drivers. Yet another theory maintains that the term cracker was in use in Elizabethan times to describe braggarts (see crack); a letter from 1766 supports this theory.
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