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I'm trying to trace the origins and rise in popularity of the abbreviation "tech" from "technology." From what I can tell, the term began taking off in popular culture around the early to mid-1980s, but I'm wondering where it started to appear first and how and why it became so ubiquitous from then to now. Any help appreciated.

I've consulted Tom Chatfield's book "Netymology," which traces the origins of many tech-related terms, but doesn't include "tech" specifically. I can see from this Collins Dictionary usage graph that the word "tech" started to rise in popularity in the early to mid-1980s. Google's Ngram Viewer also seems to confirm this timeline. I've also consulted some articles in the NYTs and New Yorker by Steve Lohr and Ben Yagoda about the origins and rise of popular technology-related phrases and words, but they focused on tracing words like "hacker" and "Big Data." I'm specifically interested in why, how, and where "tech" began to rise, in the context of being related to the Internet, software, hardware, etc. It's been suggested that it might have come out of science fiction circles around the 1960s/70s, but I'm trying to run this down.

What I'm really driving at is: I can tell with some clarity from Google's Ngram and date-restricted searches when "tech" as an abbreviation for technology began its rise, but I can't tell the how, where, or why of that rise. I'm new to etymological research so was wondering if any of you could point me in the right direction as far as the right tools to use to figure these questions out.

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    What research have you done? We expect you to do your own research and report what you find in your question so we don't all repeat your research. Case Western's college rag was called Case Tech in 1903. Cal Tech may have beat them to it, but some of the references are a bit ambiguous.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 9 at 21:47
  • Tech has a lot of different meanings. The OED says for a Technical College etc is the oldest, late 19th century. But that's maybe not the same as tech for technology?
    – Stuart F
    May 9 at 21:58
  • MIT wins. The Tech was founded in 1881.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 9 at 22:28
  • When I was growing up "tech" usually meant "technical school/college", though it might mean "technician". I was aware of the expression "hi-tech" before I was aware of the use of "tech" to mean just "technology".
    – Peter
    May 10 at 4:26

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Tech Toons cartoon - Colorado Transcript newspaper, July 23, 1967

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  • Thanks Phil and Stuart. Phil - I've consulted Tom Chatfield's book "Netymology," which traces the origins of many tech-related terms, but doesn't include "tech" specifically. I can see from this Collins graph that the word "tech" started to rise in popularity in the early to mid-1980s. Thanks for the cartoon - it's interesting to see the word in that context as early as the 60s. I've also consulted some articles in the NYTs and New Yorker by Steve Lohr and Ben Yagoda, but they focused on tracing words like "hacker" and "Big Data." I'm specifically interested in why/how "tech" began to rise. May 10 at 1:08
  • See also en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramblin'_Wreck_from_Georgia_Tech The song forst appeared in print in 1908.
    – Xanne
    May 10 at 2:28
  • Why would this be closed, except for some rigidity about doing research? It was asked only 5 hours ago.
    – Xanne
    May 10 at 2:30
  • In this cartoon "tech" would be short for "technician" rather than "technology".
    – Peter
    May 10 at 4:27

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