In April 2012, this blog had a post titled "When Computers Became Cool," about the growing status of computer geeks in the '80s. (That post is re-posted in its entirety below this post.) I found an old 1984 article which serves as a good follow up to this theme. On May 8, 1984, the Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled "Knowing a Computer Can Be Fastest Way To a Woman's Heart: The New Big Men on Campus Find Technical Wizardry Is Quicker Than Liquor."
Afterward, computers, and those who kept the knowledge of computers, began to appear in many of the movies of the '80s. This included many of the nerd oriented flicks that appeared during the mid '80s, such as Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and Weird Science (1985).
Click to enlarge.
Here's an excerpt:
Knowing a Computer Can Be Fastest Way To a Woman's Heart: The New Big Men on Campus Find Technical Wizardry Is Quicker Than LiquorThe Wall Street JournalFriday, May 8, 1984As a gangly highschool student, Michael Sattler had just five dates in four years. Then he discovered computers. Now girls have discovered him.
It is exam time at Boston University, and glassyeyed students work all night in a stuffy basement finishing up their computer projects. But in one corner, Mr. Sattler, now a 20yearold junior, is having the time of his life.
He helps one young woman dressed in shorts and a Tshirt figure out a computer program. He flirts electronically with a second woman hundreds of miles away. A third female, who has shrugged off the attentions of other men in the computer center, solicits Mr. Sattler's opinion of her résumé. "It's idol worship," Mr. Sattler allows.
It didnt quite turn out as the article predicts, but it shows what an emerging force computers were back then. Now theyre everywhere, and everyone is at least a little bit computer geek.It is also a sign of the times. Formerly disdained computer nerds are now big men on campus. Their mastery of inscrutable machines seems to be winning them the hearts of hithero unapproachable young ladies. "There are even a few recorded instances of girls going after hackers instead of football players, says Mr. Sattler. To turn the odds in his favor, he says, he spends 65 hours a week in the computer room and not just doing his homework.
When Computers Became Cool
(Originally posted April 27, 2012)
With the advent of the first personal computers during the late '70s and early '80s, there dawned a new era of coolness for computers and those who used them. Suddenly, those quirky, savvy "computer geeks" were the epitome of chic. There was even a certain shadowy sense of power that was perceived to derive from being hip to all the secrets and esoteric knowledge of computers.
One of the best examples of this was the sci-fi flick Wargames (1983).
Wargames was the story of a young computer hacker, played by Matthew Broderick, who succeeded in hacking into a powerful defense department computer which was enabled with the ability to launch nuclear missiles. Although the character played by Broderick originally thought that his interaction with the defense computer (dubbed the "WOPR") was just a game, things quickly escalated to the point of nearly causing a nuclear war. The movie's portrayal of the race to prevent nuclear catastrophe, and the climactic ending, served as a moral lesson in the midst of the Cold War.
Wargames became a popular and well remembered '80s movie classic, and also an example of the emergence of the computer geek.
A less easily remembered TV show that came along around the same time was Whiz Kids. Whiz Kids aired on CBS during 1983-84, a featured a story line about a group of computer savvy young teens who use their computer skills to fight crime.
Here is the opening credits to the short-lived Whiz Kids.