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Where do all the old programmers go? (infoworld.com)
103 points by FuNe on Oct 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments

They take up farming, of course. Having explored the most 'modern' parts of society they're ready for a new challenge. Also, having dealt with virtuality for so long it is time for a dose of reality.

Me, I bought a farm in Sweden. Harvest is in, manure has been spread, looking to grow my first 'beer crop' (barley and hops) within a few years. The forest needs some attention but that is what winter is for.

What comes around, goes around. Programmers (and developers and architects and others of similar ilk) turn to the land while farmers are surrounding themselves with technology. GPS-controlled tractors, milk robots, ID-based cow feeders, etc. Horticulture is being robotised. Forestry will go that route soon enough, with clear-cut harvest being replaced by individual tree harvesting.

Funny. I had my start in freelancing after a software developer left to start farming. I inherited his old application (which was VB front-end & Access DB) and converted it to an internal web-app.

But he definitely seemed pretty happy. :)

I remember sitting at my desk writing code at a client's one day. It was pissing down with rain - and I could see someone mowing the lawns outside. And at that moment (I wasn't particularly enjoying the work) I wished we could swap places. He looked happy.

Good luck with your farming!

For me this is becoming eerily true. Software dev for 15 years. I planted a grape vine behind my house 6 years ago. It now produces enough grapes for 60+ bottles of wine per year. I have room on the south side of my house for 4 more new grape vines...planted them and soon I'll have much more wine production...maybe 300 bottles per year?

I'm right now looking for some nice sunny land to buy and massively ramp things up.

Funny enough, I also went farming route: bought vineyards four years ago. I am curently thinking about getting into aeroponics herbs/lettuce production with all the automation.

While not ready for retirement I'm getting up there and I am buying a house soon with between 1/4-1/2 acre piece of land attached. Its a reward and opportunity for me to experiment with a large "garden" for myself and my family and maybe enough for friends or to can/jar.

I get this impulse but I'm still plugged in enough to want to automate things. I'm looking at farmbot on kickstarter and thinking how I could build my own, program or automate various systems and sensors. I'm extremely excited about having one foot in both worlds.

I'm not retired, by no means - I'm 51. I'll keep on hacking for as long as I feel the urge and find some need. I do concentrate on trying to make our (way of) life less dependent on a steady income stream - in other words, I use time and some money to make us less dependent on future money. A farm with enough land to support a family is a good start, especially one which has both arable land as well as productive forest. Hence my choice, although the fact that I studied forestry at an agricultural university might have something to do with it as well.

Weird... I've had a strange urge to take up farming and hack the hell out of it. What's with that?

"manure has been spread"

Are you doing organic farming? Just asking out of interest.

Nothing certified, not following any doctrines and not connected to anything official but in practice yes. Just common sense, really.

Yes it is.

To work is where I go (59). You won't meet a lot of people like me because when I started (1981) there were way fewer programmers than today plus some became obsolete, some became managers, and some got burned out. So the chances of meeting someone like me if you started in the past decade is not high. This of course makes it hard to decide how much age discrimination there is as it's hard to quantify, unlike gender for example. For me I got this job based on a manager from a previous job needing here what he already knew I could do.

The vast growth of the programmer population as a reason for why there aren't as many older programmers is a very compelling reason. I'm surprised I haven't seen it before.

I think there are 20 million or so programmers (not sure how you count this) today. I bet there were less than 1% of that back 35 years ago though of course no clue how to measure that either.

One way is to look at total revenue of IT/Software Industry at present and compare it with 1981. My guess is that even after adjusting for inflation it would be more than 100 times growth. Many of the present great companies were not even formed and some had just formed.

I started working in the mid 90s. Joined a company which had few 100 employees, when I left it had around 300 times more.

42 here, started just before the Internet took off, when it hit, I jumped on full bore. Most of my peers that where a little older stuck with desktop and mainframe development. Most people don't realize how few of us where in the trade back then and even less made the jump to developing Internet technologies. So there is also a dividing like or epoch in programming where the entire discipline of development changed. In many ways the early days of Internet development was archaic if you where used to desktop development. It felt like a step backwards and development in handcuffs, so a lot of developers that had time in the industry just ignored it as there was still money to be made on the other side.

So if we look at 40 it really is a dividing line where of the few people that where doing development a small fragment of that group actually started developing in what would be somewhat relevant technologies today. Of that group, possibly only in the thousands, attrition has taken it's toll (the .com bust took a lot of them, which gets missed a lot in these discussions).

Now we have all had that bad interview, with a bad company that puts some kid fresh out of school in a lead role and he grills all new applicants on theory that is in no way relevant to what we actually do and anyone in the industry for a meaningful amount of time, has long purged that info from immediate recollection. But I don't see that as an age discrimination problem, I see it as a bad management problem, and a willful lack of understanding about technology and technologist on the part of business people (for those reading, first technical hire can make or break your company). Fortunately it has been my experience that most of those companies don't stick around for too long.

Yep, agreed. I'm 56 and an SRE at a YC alumni company where I work on platform and tools. I have very few peers my age and I agree dilution is responsible for a lot of that. I started in '87 and didn't really know anyone locally. All my professional relationships were formed on Compuserve and there were really very few of us compared to today.

They find companies that value their experience and don't just hire those who already know how to use all the shiny things. They do independent consulting after spending years building their reputation as someone who delivered for past co-workers and managers. They go to mature mid-market or large companies where those in management and hiring are perhaps a few years older as well. Sometimes they need to retool

Anyone thrust into the job market for the first time in several years (say 10+) might find it somewhat unrecognizable. Job search has changed significantly in the ~20 years I've been in recruiting.

I've developed a bit of a niche business in helping older programmers (I'm 44) "rehabilitate" themselves and prepare to enter a job search (writing/reviewing resumes, consult on job search strategy, etc.). It's mostly people who don't want to go into management and still want to stay in the code.

I can only think of a few people that left the industry entirely, out of thousands (I also ran a Java Users Group for 15 years, which has a large contingent of older programmers).

I'm 55 this year, still programming. And I still love it ... well, I love trying new things.

One of my friends that I started my first job with is now at the CTO level, while I keep turning down opportunities to "advance" into management. Another friend of mine quit after the Senior Director level because he started hating his life, and went back to programming/embedded engineering for the fun of it.

Age does make you wonder if you were turned down for an offer because of subconscious ageism, but I am not aware of rampant problems with it.

You do have to be careful to give everybody's proposals a chance, instead of just pattern-matching to something awful in your past.

Keeping an open mind is a discipline.

Having kids helps you rediscover what you once loved, helps you recover from jaded oldsterism.

Once in a while, I get to help my college age daughter learn "R" programming. That's a pretty interesting language, which she probably knows better than I do now. (at least operational knowledge of the library, but not all the Computer Science aspects)

Conversely, it's interesting that my adult child is now having to deal with a bout of "imposter syndrome" :-)

I'm 66, started programming 40 years ago, and I'm not going anywhere!

Seriously, I love what I do and will continue programming as long as possible. I'm addicted to learning and the satisfaction of good, clean, simple code that gets the job done.

A related phenomenon is that programmers have no collective identity to rely on (or uphold). The struggle of the classes and the topic of the bigger social good is relatively meaningless to them. They can't put a finger on these issues, they belong to other classes. Programmers are by nature but also by nurture very much individuals, and as individuals, without nurturing collectivity, they are easily manipulated and put against each other.

So programmers don't work on socially relevant or desirable problems, but on some relatively obscure scalability issue that exists only inside a few internet behemoths. They need soldiers, not wisdom.

With these employers dominating the marketplace, socially relevant innovations take a back seat. Society doesn't help either, as open source sadly isn't tax funded (because tax-fundedness is a pivotal privilige of the disfunctional political class).

So being a programmer often is (cor)related to the strength of youth, and youth ends at 40.

However, no craftsman worth his salt loses his abilities, instead he has experience about what works and what doesn't, and becomes more effective at what he does. He doesn't run trying to catch his own tail.

For example this guy here, at https://millcomputing.com/docs/execution/. What he and his team have done is a work of beauty and is the fruit of experience and intuition.

The young and the old work together.

At about 40, it does start to get more difficult to get hired. And by 50, it is all but hopeless.

And the salary offered begins to go down at 40 too. Sharply after 44 or so.

Where I am now, at 51, I have had to learn to get by on what I was making as a SysAdmin 20 mumble years ago. But at least I have a job. Before getting my current job I was having to learn to get by without a place to live too.

If you are willing to share, I'd be curious to hear more about your situation. I've seen salary plateau at certain career levels and ages (40s usually), but saying salary goes down at all (let alone sharply) is something that I expect is not a general truth about the market at large. My anecdotal data comes from ~20 years in recruiting engineers.

There are several reasons you could see a salary drop (stagnating skill set no longer in demand, move to company that pays less, move to industry that values programmers less, etc.), but age alone isn't likely to be one of them.

Would a significant gap in employment be that damaging?

I was severely burned in an automobile accident (60%, 3rd degree) on June 6, 2006 -- and was completely unable to work for a couple years. It took a little over 4 years total from the date of the accident till I got another job.

Every job since then has been with a startup.

A four year gap in employment is a much more logical conclusion to a reduction in salary than your 44th birthday. Even if it was something like an accident (I'm glad you are better now BTW), candidates are sometimes reluctant to share medical issues on resumes/cover letters (and rightfully so in some instances) which can lead to the reader making all sorts of assumptions about why you haven't had a job in n years.

If you can explain it -- like you obviously can -- then no, not "that damaging". You've definitely gotten over the hump already (both in terms of recovering from such a disaster physically -- and in finding work afterwards).

So at this point, while a 4-year gap will still be a downward multiplier to some, the effect will be relatively mild.

Better to focus on the the sheer inner strength it must take (which I, and almost all these people summarily rejecting you, can only begin to imagine) to pull off a recovery like that, and how that makes a much more solid person overall -- and hence, a way better hire.

If ageism is the direct cause of the move to less green pastures that kind of circularizes the argument.

The direct cause of the move to less green pastures was being broke and hungry.

I'm not quite sure I follow - how is ageism leading someone to leave?

I think average salary does go down, but mainly because the "growth track" keeps getting narrower. Seriously, in their twenties just about anyone can keep getting healthy salary increases year after year. It's normal and expected at that stage. By 35, maybe half have been pushed off the fast track, either onto other non-technical tracks or onto a lower technical track. By 40 it's three quarters, and so on. At my age (51) it seems like 90-95% of my cohort have changed roles or been pushed to the fringes where pay stagnates or declines.

Note that it's all based on perceived value, which is only partly based on actual value, which is only partly based on skill. I'm not trying to brag or put anyone down here. A lot of it has to do with what I said in another comment about specialization. Nobody wants to pay a thirty-year veteran's salary for a job where they don't already have deep expertise. People who can find jobs closely aligned with their skills and specialties often continue to do OK. People who can't - and it's usually more to do with shifts in the market than in them - get left out.

The sad fact is that many older programmers' skills and instincts often do apply outside their area of obvious expertise. Recognizing code smells or knowing how to test code properly are valuable skills in any specialty. So is communication, or scheduling, or being able to recognize and mentor up-and-coming young developers. Most older programmers - not just the few lucky ones - are well able to justify their salaries but never get the chance. That's a "soft" kind of ageism, but it's ageism nonetheless.

It does get substantially more difficult, but (judging by data points I've gather in RL and from around here), only to a certain degree. Which is to say -- age discrimination is very real, and (other skill factors being equal) will definitely start to bite you by a certain downward multiplier (and undoubtedly far more so in extreme hiring markets like SV).

But again -- only to a certain degree. And more so: there a different ways of looking at it, and more importantly, certain things you can do about it -- such that if you groom your skills carefully, and pick the roles you apply for carefully, also -- you can turn your age into an upward multiplier, rather than a downward one.

That's my quick take. The main thing is, please don't give up hope -- there's still a lot one can get out of the very substantial skill investments one has made by that age, provided we don't fall into certain traps (perhaps the most insidious being: believing all the crap that SV and a good chunk of the industry believes about the magical advantages that very young hires have over older ones).

Am swamped for time at the moment, but perchance, may get back to this topic in a couple of hours.

As far as I'm concerned the salary curve says it all. Salary offered = perceived value. The market says we aren't good anymore.

I'm curious. Where are you based? i.e. which job market?

Right now I'm in Omaha but came here from Colorado, for the current job.

There aren't that many older programmers because they are diluted by the large numbers of younger programmers in a growing field.

Even if everyone who was employed in a software dev role in 1975 or even 1985 were still employed in a software dev role today, they would be so outnumbered by younger people as to be a statistical blip. (Whoa, age discrimination!)

Also, older people will tend not to suddenly switch to software development. The major entry path is through young people becoming developers. Most people over 50 in development are people who were 20-something in development, possibly younger. So how many 50-somethings there are in dev has mostly to do with how many 20-somethings were in dev thirty years ago. It could be different if large numbers of non-dev 50-somethings suddenly retrained as devs, but they don't.

At 49 I am still coding and still learning. I architected and implemented node.js services this year and have done lots of interesting modern web development. I am well respected within my organization and in fact have been poached from one team for another.

Ageist hiring practices are a reality, but not all companies are so biased. And you could not pay me enough to go into management. I want to make things. Perhaps that is why I am still viable.

You could definitely pay me enough. Great managers help more things get built than great engineers. They do it in a different way, but as long as they don't suck, they are critical. Good managers are much harder to find than competent engineers.

I think he meant he doesn't want to do the management job. Ie moving from abstractly creative work to endless series of meetings, conf calls, creating powerpoints excels and whatnot. Yes they are necessary, but it doesn't make it a cool job that brings fulfillment and happiness.

Most devs move there over time, and then complain how cool coding actually was, but they are already in money/debt trap

Yes-- that is exactly what I mean. If I found myself in an organization where management looked appealing I would make the switch. It has never happened.

No thanks. Management requires too many things I'm just not good at, or would be miserable spending my time doing: talking to people all day long, sitting in meetings, doing powerpoint stuff, attempting to mentor people, playing politics with upper management, doing performance reviews, etc. There's nothing there I derive any enjoyment from.

What I do wish I could do is find a job where I travel around a lot and debug problems for customers on-site. I like traveling and don't mind spending time in hotels (as long as they're nice ones), and like being able to do different things instead of the same thing day after day, month after month. I also like problem-solving and debugging (esp. when I'm not the one to blame for the bug!), and have been very good at this kind of work in past jobs.

They become architects / development managers / product managers / pre-sales engineers / professional services consultants / founders of startups / project managers / security advisors / dev ops managers / tech recruiters / biz dev managers / even sales...

Some of the best product managers I have worked with are former programmers...they just get it. When I hire people in these roles, I often specify "technical" in the job title to attract these former programmers.

Programming develops the skills found in good program managers. I think it's because so many of us build things that don't exist constantly. So we build a natural intuition about what are valuable problems to solve and can do it in ways that people would never consider, even "domain experts".

A domain expert might try a naive or brute force approach to a very specific problem, while a programmer would see a graphing problem and instantly think of several different techniques to apply and be able to tell what outcome they'd produce.

I have the same experience.

These articles are getting old. Pardon the pun.

The main reason older programmers are so under-represented is that the field has grown exponentially over the past 2 decades. With ever larger influxes of college grads the previous smaller cohorts get more and more diluted across the industry.

> "Many programmers find that their employability starts to decline at about age 35," Matloff writes. ... "Statistics show that most software developers are out of the field by age 40," Matloff continues ... (Matloff declines to mention which statistics he's reading.)

So basically he's spouting BS to match his talking point.

IMO, older programmers who have done good work in the past are at a major advantage: we have a network of former co-workers who can speak to our abilities better than any whiteboard interview can and who can alert their managers/recruiters that we are someone worth going after.

I realize my experience is anecdotal, however having made two job changes in my 40s, my experience could not be more different from what Matloff implies:

- When chatting with former co-workers, if I even remotely hint at considering a switch, I have their recruiters kicking down my door the next day.

- I have employers skip phone screens to get me into a loop faster in the hopes of getting a jump on other potential employers.

- I've had some offers without interviewing both times I was looking for my next gig. Other offers' interviews felt like formalities because they had to have a loop in the big company HR system.

- I have a constant stream of "would you consider this great opportunity?" on LinkedIn despite the fact that one can easily reverse-engineer my approximate age from my profile.

- etc., etc.

It doesn't feel like "employability starts to decline at about age 35" from where I'm sitting. And lest I be labelled some special outlier, I have a good number of friends & former co-workers in the mid-40s age bracket who are having similar experiences.

The fact that a handful of SV startup bros only want to hire their long-lost twins doesn't make the bulk of the industry old-programmer-averse.

I have a constant stream of "would you consider this great opportunity?" on LinkedIn despite the fact that one can easily reverse-engineer my approximate age from my profile.

I'm sure they could, if they bothered to actually read it (which basically no one ever does). In general, "feeler emails" are a poor measure of serious interest in one's overall profile.

Basically they're just trying to ping you to see if (1) you're in the market and (2) remotely interested. Then they'll actually look at your profile -- and make the kind of assessment you would have thought they made before reaching out to you.

Many of us still work. I am in my 60s and I still work about 20 hours a week. I love designing and writing code, and I also do software maintenance and devops, and I write about one computer science book a year (working on two right now: one on Haskell and one on Cognitive Science).

I don't earn the very high salary that I used to earn, but that is OK because I am doing what I want to do.

Mid 40s here. architecting/engineering Java monstrosities by day (although it's not too bad lately - fat jars/docker etc), hacking on some personal pet projects with newer tech (been getting into Elm and some Haskell lately) by night.

I turned 40 this year, most of the developers I work with are older than I am. The answer is in Federal contracting.


Worked in the SE of England as a programmer for 20 years, moved to being a tester ( had 20 years experience of how things could go wrong) then moved away from the rat race commute of London to low-cost of living Michigan and couldn't be happier.

Currently learning how to program mobile apps so that I can test them better

GTFO of "the valley" and you can have a very productive career past your 40's. Seriously, I know this is HN, but the world doesn't revolve around SJ and SF.

Irony: I work with a group of about a half dozen devs for ... UC Davis (same uni as the prof mentioned in the article). We are all 50-ish, and work with minimal hand holding.

We do grant work for the state, and to some extent, the federal government. We are not doing "super scalable" stuff, but we still have thousands of users, many daily, and some of the entry forms for things are huge, with much complicated logic to be legally compliant.

I have set myself up as the resident Javascript guy (Angular), but I have to admit, it feels odd when I go to the local JS user group - it's a much younger crowd, overall. The funny thing, though, is that Angular/JS feels quite a bit like the interpreted language, proto-MVC, stuff I did on PCs back in the 80s :-)

I have a question for all the veteran devs out there.

How do you keep from getting burned out on the mismanagement that plagues our industry?

Is it personal perseverance? Are you just super selective with what jobs you take? Is the love of building something stronger than any feelings of frustration with poor management?

Not sure if I qualify as old. But have coded for 20+ years. And have always loved it. The other aspects of work (sending email, meetings, making presentations, documents, etc) may feel like work based on the situation, but coding rarely(if not never). TBH, one does procrastinate, even for coding. But once you start it, and soon you tend to enjoy it.

Being selective helps, so if you can afford to say 'no' to projects you don't like, you should. Another more important thing about being selective is IMHO, what you choose to believe and what path you choose for yourself. We will find all kinds of examples in others(people we know or people we read about). But perhaps taking inspiration from the likes of say Nikola Tesla, who were working in their 80s until they died. A lot of other people also work in management roles late into their life. But I think, programming is more like being a Scientist, in the way that the kind of brain muscles which get exercised.

Can't speak about perseverance, as its easier to keep doing something you like. But yes, it does help to keep abreast of latest technology. I started doing C++ coding, then did Java about a decade. Now mostly program in Go, but fairly competent in C++/Java as well. And I also try to be a full stack engineer - coded Android app, and also UI in JS/Dart(This aspect of being a full stack engineer, of course may not be necessary for every one).

Taking breaks to learn some new tech, also helps, I am taking an 'Intro to AI' course on a MOOC. And also spent time learning about Bitcoin and how it works.

Sometimes, if my work does not offer me strong enough programming challenge, I do programming challenges on sites like Hacker Rank (and earlier Topcoder) just for fun.

On burnout: Yes, that can happen. I think, it happens when you are working in an unhappy position for too long. Sometimes, it may happen when you keep doing a project for too long, even though it was your own baby. No easy answers.

So, I think, its mainly love of programming for me. I hope to keep doing it, till late in life.

PS: I see the question was posed few days ago. But its still not answered. So answering, just in case you check for replies.

I'd be interested in this too. I'm still in my 30's and I'm already feeling this from time to time.

The part of the article that really rings true for me is the part about specialization. Certainly a lot move into management of one sort of another (line, product, project). Some move into "architect" roles or CTO offices where they apply their wisdom (and biases) to affecting technical direction other than by actually coding. However, many still remain in coding roles, but the coding tends to be more specialized:

* Outside of tech companies, in other orgs with their own specific tech needs (e.g. financial or scientific).

* More infrastructure, less user-facing.

* More "old school" like embedded/OS work.

I'm 51, and I specialize in storage. Consistent with this pattern, I've had many colleagues and collaborators in their 40s and 50s (after that it really does get pretty thin). We might be less visible than people doing the mobile/VR/ML kinds of stuff that are en vogue in the Silicon Valley VC/YC ecosystem, but many of us are still in high demand. There are even headhunters who specialize in facilitating such hires. They don't focus explicitly on age, but their focus on specific domains often results in a greyer-than-average contact list. You just have to know where to look.

Data point: I just turned 50, and I am happily coding away as a developer. Couldn't be happier - I still love to code.

Glad to hear - do you take special care of your wrists? I'm 32 and with some problems already...

Get worker's compensation now--don't wait. Physical therapy can help a lot! You'll have to improve your posture and start taking regular breaks (I use MacBreakz software). A stand/sit desk (I use a Jarvis) will probably help as will a good chair (I got a DXRacer). There are various accessories. I prefer the Kinesis Advantage 2 (http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/shop/advantage2/) and Apple's Magic Trackpad 2 (which fits in the center) of the Advantage.

The most important thing is not to wait to get treatment. Also, what works for you depends on how you have injured yourself so try out all the different things available and come up with your own setup. And if you're employed, getting on worker's comp has been a life saver (and probably saved me a few thousand dollars also, not to mention regular insurance maxes out after a small number of therapy visits). Some areas (bay area for example) have support groups. I haven't been but I hear they can help point you to good doctors / therapists. There's also a bunch of literature, books and websites out there with more detailed info than I can provide here (search for "repetitive stress injuries").

Yes, I do! I actually had pretty bad RSI almost 11 years ago (not in my wrists, but in my arms), which have made me use a break program, a split keyboard and a pen-mouse. These changes, especially the break program (using MacBreakZ now) have cured my RSI.

More details here: https://henrikwarne.com/2012/02/18/how-i-beat-rsi/

A few recommendations:

1. use proper posture. Don't rest your wrists on the table as you type. Make sure your chair is an appropriate height (or your desk itself, if you're standing).

2. imo Dvorak is much more comfortable (it's not about typing speed).

3. Take up rock climbing. Seriously. It's the best exercise for your hands/wrists that I know of. Any time I've started to have hand/wrist pain I've made a point of going to a rock gym a few times and it helps fix the problem. I wish I kept up with it more.

> Don't rest your wrists on the table as you type.

As mentioned in my sibling comment, this was _THE_ most important thing in getting rid of wrist pain. Not even a pad helped, it still compressed on my wrists.

After starting to feel twinges in my wrist I switched to an Alphagrip[0] keyboard so that I wouldn't be tempted to rest my wrists on the desk or a pad. Haven't felt that twinge since... Alphagrips might be hard to find now, but definitely explore alternative keyboards.

[0]: http://www.alphagrips.com/

The biggest difference maker for me in terms of alleviating repetitive strain was switching from a mouse to a trackball. Something about not having to tense my arm up and move the mouse all over anymore...

I never had pain on my right hand which I use for mousing. My mild pain is the left hand - two hypotheses: this hand is weaker, and too much alt-tabbing.

I suspect lifting weights already improves this generally, as I have periods of much less pain which coincide with being more active.

I had wonky, comes-and-goes knee pain which cleared up when I hit the gym and started doing squats.

If you have a body pain problem, "see if lifting doesn't help" is good advice, but you have to be careful, i.e., don't be a dumb gymbro and load on more weight than you know you can hamdle with good form.

Trackballs are amazing. The best one I ever used hasn't been made in years, and if you can find a Cordless Optical Trackman new in box it commands a pretty decent price.

Buy a Model M or at least avoid laptop keyboards that are extra small.

Do some heavy lifting now and again, so that the hands are used for real stuff.

Those are some string keyswitches - I have seen a few people recommending against them if you have hand pain.

They don't type hard enough :-)

Joke aside, I was mainly thinking about wrist problems. I think any normal sized, model-m layout or possibly split-layout keyboard with non-linear quality switches is ok.

If the finger joints hurts, I suppose a lower activation force might be good - I guess one might be Cherry MX Brown, but I don't personally like anything else than buckling spring...

The main message is that in my experience, laptops in your lap is the worst, and exercise helps.

Sure, thanks! its also interesting that RSI was much rarer when secretaries wuold type all day on heavy typewriters...

An article that contains a bunch of anedotes to refute another article that contains a bunch of anecdotes. Hmm...

I want to see the data of where they go and determine from that.

Yes - the article is not very good but I couldn't find anything decent (didn't search long though). Put this up mostly interested in what actual people might have to say.

Data point - in my 40s (doing DevOps atm). Truth is in my company (one of the big ones) I do not see a lot of older folks doing technical work (I might be the oldest in a team of about 40 people). So I'm wondering - where is everyone (and why am I not there too)?

They get cast into void.

Many of them stick around as a memory leak.

I work in a place where I'm in the low end of the age spectrum at 30. The company is in the Financial industry and was founded in the 70s. It has a long history of using technology so many engineers started 10-20+ years ago. The company offers great benefits and salary are above average which is what I think many of the engineers here optimized for when coming to work here. That's also what I felt led a lot of the engineers I worked with in my previous job for one of the big tech companies to leave after 5 years or so. Most of them ended up taking jobs with companies which seemed to offer better work life balance and benefits.

A lot of them also ended up in management. Some because it was the only path available for advancement. Many orgs just don't have (or make) space for distinguished engineers and the career path for SE ends at the senior level to which most can attend in less then 5-10 years. After that there is nowhere to go for them but management. Another issue is the demand for distinguished engineers is lower since you need less of them then junior and senior devs so it's a limited pool of jobs.

To me, it has become easier to find work when I approached 40. I'm 42 now, and I've had plenty of co-workers who were older than that. Any company that refuses more experienced programmers is foolish.

My dad retired as a professional programmer a few years ago. He started in the 1970s, and had been doing a lot of Java before his retirement. He's occasionally doing some work on an open source project now.

I have yet to meet a recruiter that wasn't desperate for demonstrated talent. Every corporate shop i've seen has older programmers doing the real work and younger programmers paying the tech debt and building UI.

I think most of these articles are focused on startup culture and marque companies. (ie. 1% of the market)

Does anyone have hard numbers on what the cohorted attrition is for programmers? Ie, of the individuals employed as programmers 10 years ago, what percent are still employed in programming? 20 years ago? 30 years ago?

I've tried to search for this, but I think my google-fu's not up to snuff.

An old joke about this:

They go to the elephant graveyards of IT, banks.

54 yr old here, 32 of experience in programming. Working on a startup, learning something new every day. Never short of offers, grateful for that and for having a rewarding profession.

They take up farming, coffee brewing, bagle cooking, photography, anything that doesn't involve a computer screen directly streaming nightmares into your brain 18 hours a day.

I'm 40, and I'm just getting started as a software developer after years doing other sorts of IT things (networking, tech support, sysadmin, etc).

Exactly. I'm older than you by a few years and I don't even waste my time considering my age.

Too much to do to worry about this nonsense. This constant rumination about age discrimination in the industry is the only thing getting old from my perspective.

There are lots of developers in their forties and some in their fifties at our company. We would be happy to hire more.

  >> lots of developers in their forties and some in their fifties at our company. We would be happy to hire more.
You can try oldgeekjobs.com

Just how many new programmers were produced between the years 1975 to 1985? Not a whole lot. That's why you don't see too many old programmers around, because they were pioneers in a new field. They are still around but they get lost in the crowd of new younger and less-experienced programmers.

If anyone knows where, let me know. I'm gonna need to head there pretty soon.


Other than anecdotes, is there any actual longitudinal data which tracks programmers and technical types across their careers?

They're taken out back and shot

/dev/null probably.

into the soylent of course!

They gosub without return.

they die

> you'll probably check the box next to "project manager" instead of "software developer"

Actually that's a demotion as far as I can tell.

Right?! Engineers reporting to non-engineers is a bit of an anti pattern. A front line manager needs to manage the work being done and not just the schedule.

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