Another burning question. While I’ve always associated it’s early usage with circus freaks, that’s apparently not it (scroll down):
Geek is actually a very old word. It is a variant of geck, a term of Low German/Dutch origin that dates in English to 1511. It means a fool, simpleton, or dupe. Geck is even used by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, V.i.:
Why have you suffer’d me to be imprison’d,
Kept in a dark house, visited by the priest,
And made the most notorious geck and gull
That e’er invention play’d on? tell me why.
It’s still not clear how it gained its current “computer geek usage. This page provides more insight into the circus freak angle, including a reference to the biting off of chicken heads