From a review of Benjamin Nugent's American Nerd:
From the late 19th century onward, it was more or less accepted that the ideal purpose of American education and parenting was to produce athletic, popular young men and women, the sort who end up in business, law, or politics. But sometime during the 1980s it began to be a lot harder to dismiss the awkward kids with thick glasses, obsessive interests, and no social skills. Sure, life was still rough for those kids, but they were learning they weren't alone, thanks to TV shows like "Square Pegs" and movies like "Sixteen Candles." As computers began to play a larger role in business, education, and life in general, the former class presidents were learning that the former class geeks held everyone's future in their hands. Soon one nerd (Alan Greenspan) was running the economy, another nerd (Al Gore) was running for president, and two unbelievably rich nerds (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) were changing the ways a lot of us lived and worked.
Remember "Sixteen Candles"? (Hat tip: 3QD)