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The history of the IT geek revealed

Technology nerds through time

Before smartphones, social networks, and other must-have tech, it wasn't a badge of honour to be called a geek. Here's a look back at the evolution of the nerd.

Not so long ago, computer geeks got stereotyped as weedy looking guys dressed in white shirts, thin black ties and horn-rimmed glasses, constantly fiddling with something electrical and being teased for not being mainstream.

However, its thanks to geeks like these that much of today's technology we often take for granted exists. This has slowly lead to an acceptance in society of geeks and their much-loved technology. Let's take a tour through the ages, shall we?

The IBM Era

The era that ushered in what we consider the modern-day IT department started off like this: on the left is the 1940's ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and computer), weighing in at 30 tonnes with more than 19,000 vacuum tubes burning.

On the right is the IBM System 360 mainframe, Model 50. At the controls were computer technicians and early programmers, the dressed-for-success geek of the day

Image credit: IDG News Service

Pirates of Silicon Valley

The buttoned-up IBM look eventually gave way to the hippie programmer: coders, pirates and anarchists whose entrepreneurial zeal challenged the IBM dogma of the day.

"Hippie programmers have long hair and deliberately, even pridefully, ignore the seasons in their choice of clothing. They wear shorts and sandals in the winter and T-shirts all the time," said tech author Robert X Cringely. Showing off the look: on the left, Apple's Jobs and Woz; on the right, Richard Stallman, software freedom activist.

Image credits: Windowtowallstree.com (left); Stallman.org

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NEXT PAGE: Gamers in training and Geeks land in pop culture

  1. We look at the geeks behind today's technology
  2. Gamers in training and geeks land in pop culture
  3. The King of the Geeks, from slumdog to dotcom millionaires
  4. Google guys
  5. Nerds and IT still at work
  6. The tech geek inside us all


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