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Paul Lindner

The Whiz Kids - Tech Role Models of the 80s

2 min read

Reading this passage from Ready Player One1 I was reminded of a major influence that I had all but forgotten:

It was a Friday night, and I was spending another solitary evening doing research, working my way through every episode of Whiz Kids , an early-’80s TV show about a teenage hacker who uses his computer skills to solve mysteries.  Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Chapter 18.

So I was prepared when I was recently asked "What brought you here?" (in relation to technology). My answer? ... The Whiz Kids. I can directly trace my interest in online services to that white-hat hacking, war dialing, speech synthesizing, BASIC programming gang of kids2.  I can only hope that today's teens have something as good or better.

Trying to find the video also made me realize that Youtube is providing a vital preservation service.  You see the Whiz Kids episodes were never released, not on DVD, not even on VHS. You won't find them in any library. Anywhere. But there it is, in 10 minutes chunks3, captured and uploaded off a grainy, noisy videotape recording.

Cultural Artifacts, preserved... for now.

  1. RP1, soon to be a major motion picture from Steven Spielberg.
  2. It was also probably the first time I ever heard about the NSA ("No one knows if they even exist")
  3. Here's a full Full Playlist
Image from IMDB