The Setup is a site that interviews developers, designers, artists who are good at what they do on what hardware and software they use to get their work done. There are, to date, 373 interviews who have together acknowledged to have used 5071 (non-unique) hardware and software. The latest interview as of this writing is of Brendon Chung, an indie Mac game developer.

In each interview, the interviewee answers what hardware and software he uses to get his work done. Not only have I personally benefitted from these interviews in subtle ways in adopting some simple tools for OSX to remarkable ways like investing in the latest retina MBP, there are instances of an interviewee adopting some of the tools from an earlier interviewee and quoting it.

Not only are these interviews relevant to you as a hacker to do your work better today, but the aggregated stats from these give us a sneak peak into the future of the mass computing market.

Quoting Paul Graham:

“When it comes to computers, what hackers are doing now, everyone will be doing in ten years. Almost all technology, from Unix to bitmapped displays to the Web, became popular first within CS departments and research labs, and gradually spread to the rest of the world.”

That was back in 2005. Since then, if anything, the duration needed for something to move from a hacker’s toolset to the mass market computing has reduced.

So, lets get into the meat of the stats:

Popular Hardware:

Hardware: Almost everyone uses a Mac. Macbook Pro being preferred over Macbook Air. Looks like everyone loves their cinema-displays a lot. Most of the interviews were in 2010, that explains iPhone4.

Popular Software:

Software: About a fourth of the people use google docs. I’d never have guessed that one. The significant usage of google-reader among hackers explains the recent outrage at it’s shutting down. A lot of people love and use the minimmalistic mail app bundled in OSX and photoshop continues to be the most used designer tool.

Before you think about this possibly being a biased sample favouring Macs, let me give you the actual categorization of the interviewed people:

Almost all the interviewees are Mac users (infact including windows developers, but lets save that for another post!) Over half of them are developers and a fourth are designers.

This may be good info. But it isn’t good enough.You dont need aggregated stats to know most people use Macs and designers use photoshop. So, I digged further to plot a few more things that may be interesting.

Popular Headphones:

Popular Headphones: This is the real reason I started aggregating these stats. I still cant quite decide between quietcomfort-15 and hd-280-pro :)

Popular Keyboards:

Popular Keyboards: Apple Keyboard is the most popular keyboard with many niche ones having their own set of followers.

Popular Text Editors:

You’d think!
Popular Text Editors: One would think hackers use emacs and vim to 50% ratio. No? NO! Ignore the google-talk in there. For some reason, it’s description has ‘text’ in it :)

Popular Backup Solutions:

Popular Backup Solutions: Unless you already have been backing up, you should probably checkout these good services hackers use!

Popular Chairs:

Popular Chairs: Who wouldn’t love their expensive aerons? From the looks of it, there are ‘just-as-good-but-cheaper’ alternatives!

Popular Terminals:

Popular Terminals: iTerm2 is clearly a quite popular terminal. Somehow personally, I don’t see what it has to offer, over the bundled sweet terminal. I love visor. Clearly, I am in the minority.

Popular Printers:

Popular Printers: There aren’t too many people using printers. But here are a few you should checkout if you want to buy one, today.

Popular Scanners:

Popular Scanners: Looks like Fujitsu really figured out how to make scanners!

Is there anything else that I can query of this useful aggregated data, that you would like to know.

For the technically inclined, I did all of this analysis using Pandas and you are welcome to check it out and suggest me how to improve :)

If there is enough interest, I will consider publishing this information as a google docs pivot table for you to play around. (Does google docs have pivot tables yet?)

Let me know what you think about this in the comments below and you are more than welcome to tweet your feedback to me on twitter. I am @becomingGuru on twitter. You should also thank @waferbaby for his awesome work curating the site from which I could get these graphs to you.