Originally, a hacker was someone who makes furniture with an axe. In those days, nails were hard to come by (they had to be made, one by one, by a blacksmith), screws did not exist, and saws were only used to slice trees into beams and planks. A carpenter would use an axe to hack wood in to table legs or so, and to shape the parts in such a way that they could be joint together with glue. This takes quite some skill.
When I was working in Azerbaidjan in 1997, there was a carpenter, Ali, who stll worked that way, and the beds, tables and cabinets he made were better, stronger than those of his younger colleagues, who used more modern techniques. They also had a rough kind of beauty to them. Ali was a hacker.
Hacking is about skill, competence, excellence. The term ‘hacker’ got a new meaning when computer technology began to evolve. It dates back to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. (The ARPAnet was the seed from which the internet grew.) Hackers built the Internet. Hackers made the Unix operating system what it is today. Hackers make the World Wide Web work.