> Bad programmers will still build bad software tomorrow too, but I think there are more of them now than there were then and that’s the real problem.
Of course there are more bad programmers now - because there are many more programmers now. But this doesn't make the great programmers any less great than their predecessors.
And things like higher barriers and lack of powerful search engines may have been true, but do they really improve a programmer's ability? I'd argue they simply affect a programmer's productivity, whether the programmer's skilled or not.
Human greatness (or lack of) in a particular industry doesn't vary over time in my opinion, especially over just a few decades. I don't think the achievements of the past are any better or worse than the achievements of today. It's just much easier to recognise great achievements (and achievers) in retrospect - as time passes, the signal-to-noise ratio improves.