The Origins & A Brief History Of ‘Fanboy’

The Origins & A Brief History Of ‘Fanboy’

The epithet “fanboy” may be one of the useful verbal barbs one can sling at the faithful follower of technology—consumer electronics, video games or otherwise—as the console wars rage on. Where did this catch all insult come from?

Its possible origins may be rooted in a pursuit just as nerdy as verbally sparing with your PlayStation or Nintendo-adoring nemeses online, dating back—at least in a derogatory sense—to a fantasy fanzine from 1973 titled Fanboy. Tech site Technologizer notes that even then, the term fanboy wasn’t used as much as an insult as it was a “mindset.”

So says Fanboy fanzine creator Jay Lynch, who was also behind geek-tinged products like Garbage Pail Kids. He claimed the creation of the term, now often a deflective self-applied label as much as a dismissive and insulting one, in a limited edition trading card in 2009. So, yeah, old news, but part of a larger look at the popular online slur.

The fanboy insult appears to apply most strongly to Apple aficionados, with Technologizer’s research showing Sony following closely behind, with PS3, Sony and PSP ranking near the top. (PlayStation would as well, showing that Sony has a strong following across its many products.)

Of course, Microsoft and Nintendo have their supporters labelled fanboy fanatics on the internet as well, ranking almost as high as Sony’s army of passionate fans. From AMD to Google to, yes, even Zune, it seems there’s a fanboy for everything.

Further level-headed and objective research into the matter at Technologizer.

Fanboy! The Strange True Story of the Tech World’s favourite Put-Down. [Technologizer]


  • I never found fanboy to be an insult… in fact even if somebody tries to use it as an insult it doesn’t really even have to much of an impact… it just doesn’t sound insulting really.
    But then you look at something like geek and nerd… I think nerd sounds more like an insult were as geek for some reason doesn’t see, quite so bad… can’t quite explain it. Anybody else feel the same way?

  • These are my Interpritations:-

    Geek = Some one who enjoys doing something and knows alot of information about it. eg; A Warhammer Geek is someone reads the codex from start to finish, knows the characters and enjoys playing the game.

    Freak = Someone who is over-the-top crazy into something and knows pretty much everything about it. eg; WOW Freak spends most of his/her free time playing te game, knows all the exploits, all the stories where to find all the goodies and what does the most damage.

    Nerd = Someone who uses all their time to study and practice something, normally to increase their chances at a career or simply to be the best. eg; someone who plays football everyday, all day. All they talk about is football, all they watch is football, they live, breathe, eat and crap football. They do this to become the best.

    Fanboy = Someone who follows a brand to the bitter end. This brand can do no wrong in their eyes. They love it and they seam to think it loves them. Normally used to describe any Sony fan or Xbox 360 owners who have just bought their 3rd xbox after the last 2 have RROD.

    • Yep, I’d probably agree nearly 100% with all of your interpratations. I quite like your example of Fanboyism/RROD’s.
      I used to be a complete and utter Nintendo Fanboy… probably due to going through the Sega v Nintendo rivalry through most of my childhood… but I’ve since seen the light and gone multi-format… I keep the Nintendo for the exclusives (Mario, Zelda, Metroid) and I have the 360 for the exclusives on that and for the multi-format that always get totally borked when they downgrade them to the Wii.

  • A geek, a nerd and a fan-boy walk into a bar.

    The geek is wearing clothing that stands out in the most inappropriate way, with socks and sandals, tanned shorts that stop just below the knee, a heavy duffel coat over a buttoned up tweed undercoat, covering a white nylon shirt with two pockets filled with pens, and wearing thick black rimmed glasses with tape holding them together.

    Before the geek can order anything at the bar, he is escorted from the premises for not matching the strict dress code.

    The nerd, dressed slightly more appropriately, approaches the bar and begins to explain to the bartender in minute detail, everything there is to know about alcohol, it’s effects, the chemical composition of each variant, where each item in stock is brewed, when the bar-tending trade first truly began and so on.

    Before the nerd can get around to ordering anything, not that he ever would, he is escorted from the premises for being a public nuisance.

    Finally the fan-boy approaches the bar, and begins to sob uncontrollably. He orders drink after drink, but the tears do not stop flowing.

    The bartender leans over and asks the fan-boy why he’s drinking so much, to which the fan-boy replies, “I’m drinking to forget” as he points to his transformers generation one t-shirt.

    He later joins a few Star Wars fan-boys at a nearby table.

  • I’ve always thought of it having two separate but similar meanings. Kind of like how there’s a difference between a newbie and a n00b, you might have have both a fanboy and fanboi. Eg a Nintendo fanboy might stick to their one brand of console, but they’ll still play anything and complain about what the big N does. But the fanboi type, they’re the ones in the propeller hats, spewing all manner of rubbish that makes you embarrassed just to be hearing them speak, refusing to play other consoles, etc. The rabid ones.

    Just the way I’ve always viewed it. Kind of like Jonmokoko and his geek/nerd thing.

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