This is a follow-up to the lengthy "Do you want to be doing this at 50" discussion that we've been having here on HN for the past week. For those of you who might have missed it:
As someone who is definitely on the path to be developing software for the rest of his life, I'm somewhat concerned. There are many anecdotes of programmers in their 50s having a pretty bad time, and yet there are real examples out there of programmers who have done phenomenally well: they've made a difference, they're well known and respected AND they've been financially successful as well.
I'm thinking of (contemporary) programmers of the caliber of John Carmack, Rich Hickey, Peter Norvig, Jeff Dean.. I'm trying to understand what it is that they did differently from everybody else that set them apart. I understand that many have been successful through their ventures (see Bill Joy or Eric Schmidt), is that perhaps the only route?
I think this is an interesting and valuable discussion for every developer out there.