The media’s perception and portrayal of the character of the “nerd” has certainly changed in the last few decades. Think about it; back when I was a wee boy (and the Professor was already old), the portrayal of the nerd character was done at levels of excess normally reserved for characterizations from Commedia dell’Arte. The portrayal of “Urkel” from the old sitcom Family Matters was an exercise in stock character stereotyping.
This gradually progressed to the character of Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons, whose levels of condescension seemed to place him above the general public, at least in his own mind. This has gradually become the typification as time has gone on. Now, of course, the four amigos in The Big Bang Theory — along with nerd folk hero Wil Wheaton — have redefined the nerd as “cool, but amazingly socially awkward”.
As the arbiters of all things nerdy here, I think we need to sound off on this matter. Who is the nerd character you think of, or whose voice you use, when you encounter something decidedly nerdy? Who is the Alpha Nerd?