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Propeller head is an urban slang term for someone who is exceptionally knowledgeable, especially in a technical field. This slang has become synonymous with computer geek or techno-geek. Propeller head was first used in 1982, and is still used in technology development companies and organizations. The term was taken from cartoon characters of techie fans who happen to wear a child’s beanie cap with a propeller sticking out at the top of it.
A propelller head may also be called a prophead.
The propeller beanie cap became a self-parody of science fiction fans with regards to their out-of-this-world imaginations. It was made popular by an American science fiction author and cartoonist, Radell Faraday Ray Nelson. He claimed to be the creator of the propeller beanie as an insignia of science fiction fanatics. He is also the creator of the Beany character who wears the propeller cap, and who first appeared in a submission to a 1948 cartoon contest.
In mainstream use, the term propeller head or prophead could refer to developers, programmers and other technically savvy people.