A new or inexperienced computer or Internet user.
The Internet Companion is a compact accessible guide to networking on the Internet, an ideal volume for the newbie because it’s so friendly. Like all the best guides, it makes two assumptions: that you may know nothing about the subject matter, but that you’re not on idiot — just ignorant.
—Jon Lebkowsky, “The Internet Companion: A Beginner’s Guide to Global Networking,” Whole Earth Review, September 22, 1993
Many beginners, poor things, turn to this column in the hopes of picking up a glimmer of high-tech insight. I will, on occasion, and without further apology, attempt to write a pure beginner’s column, explaining every twisted phrase of technical jargon I notice.
But, just in case I miss a term or two, here is a short “newbie” list of commonly-used computer terms.
—Cairn Macgregor, “And now for something completely basic,” The Gazette, November 14, 1992
I did my stuggling [sic] as a newbie — let’s get some info out for those that are new to the net so that it works for all of us.
This is probably the mildest of hacker insults, and is certainly the most common now that the Internet is flooded with newcomers of all persuasions. Newbie is a variant of 'new boy', which the OED defines as a "schoolboy during his first term at a school, esp. one at a preparatory school or English public school." The more general sense of a person who is new to an activity or profession dates to around 1970. The OED's earliest example of the newbie as a fresh computer or Internet user is from 1993, so the earliest citation here antedates that by several years.