August 20, 2009

The Evolution of the Geek and Nerd T-Shirt

I thought I would show off some of my favorite geek / nerd t-shirts that I have or would like to receive as a gift from someone who cares... :-)

The Evolution of the Nerd Shirt...

The beginnings of collectible t-shirts started with the concert shirts of the 60's and 70's. Bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin always had great album art and record companies eventually realized that they could make a little extra money by merchandising these bands at their live concerts with t-shirts that could only be bought at the show. They became collectible because of this reason. During that time, if you had the t-shirt, then you had actually been to that concert. I would say that was something to brag about. Pop groups jumped on the band wagon of merchandising soon after and the industry has always done it since.

The Computer Age Nerd Shirt...

In the early 80's Atari introduced one of the world's first console gaming systems as well as an affordable home computer system. This began the age of computers being introduced into the pop culture scene. Some of the first computer shirts were created for marketing purposes and to create buzz at trade shows by some of the early business computer and software companies like: Apple, Amiga, IBM and business software like Turbo Pascal, Lotus 1-2-3, IBM's OS2. These shirts are extremely rare now but you can get replicas of some of these from online vendors like's Axis T-shirts. Ebay is also a great place to search for some of these. Be advised, most shirts on Ebay are replicas. A true vintage early computer marketing t-shirt is a great find if you can get your hands on them.

Vintage Toys Shirts

The late 70's and early were ripe with cool new toys that included marketing and promotion with t-shirts for fans that could be purchased. Some examples would be toys like: GI Joe, Transformers, Smurfs, Barbie, and Sci-Fi and horror movie merch like Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Gremlins, Flash Gordon, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and others from the late 70's and early 80's. Originals are true rarities these days and often go for over $50 if in good wearable condition.

Modern Gaming and Comic Shirts

We've all seen these around. Almost every comic book character and video game has their own fleet of shirts. In fact these are so common these days, that you can buy most at your local Wal-Mart and dollar stores. This is an example of saturating the market, making something that could be cool and bringing it close to the "sell out" category. There are some rarities out there. I would consider some games like Myst (replica's here) and some of the early ground breaking games like id software's Doom, or Wolfenstein to be very collectible. These companies didn't have alot of extra money for marketing and promotion early on therefore authentic t-shirts with these logos would be considered rare. (BTW if you find a vintage Myst or Riven t-shirt, send me the link!). A few of the popular designs right now are WOW (World of Warcraft) and Halo.

Sarcastic Geek and Funny Nerd Shirts

This is currently my favorite category right now and includes shirts that you have inside information and you have to know about the topic or be semi-intelligent to understand the humor or message of the shirt. One of the original innovators of the funny geek shirt are open source programs and operating systems like Linux. The Linux penguin and shirts that reference Linux commands or functions are funny to me. For example, the original Sudo Make Me A Sandwich shirt on the left.

I'm liking the new Twitter shirts and any "insider" type funny shirts like those here on and There are a plethora of new Twitter and Social Networking shirts out now that are hilarious. Find some on CafePress. So welcome to the world of geek / nerd shirts.

If you have and suggestions or links to other cool and funny shirts that I should add here, leave me a comment...