Whiz Kids, Hackers, and Nerds: Representations of Child and Teen Programmers in the 1970s and 1980s
CitationShen, Elana. 2019. Whiz Kids, Hackers, and Nerds: Representations of Child and Teen Programmers in the 1970s and 1980s. Bachelor's thesis, Harvard College.
AbstractIn this thesis, I explore representations of child and teen programmers in the period when personal computers emerged and entered the mainstream of American society from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. In the 1970s, discourses about personal computing by hobbyists and educators deployed the vision of the creative, curious, innocent child to express hopes for redefining computing in terms of individual expression, universal accessibility, and alternatives to capitalism. In the early ‘80s, as personal computers entered homes in greater numbers, their relationship to children and teens became a source of anxiety as well as optimism. In representing both ingenuity and rebelliousness, young “hackers” who sought access to private information seemed to call for simultaneous encouragement and containment of their computer skills. After the initial media frenzy about kid hackers, the “revenge of the nerd” narrative successfully contained the young programmer in the role of the entrepreneur – someone to be admired for his determined accumulation of capital.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364640
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