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Where Do All of the Old Programmers Go?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the wherever-it-is-I-hope-it's-FAR-from-a-cube-farm dept.

Programming 799

full-of-beans asks: "I work as a software developer for a large UK based international organization. Most of my colleagues that program are under 40 years old. Those that are over 40 tend to be in either Management or IT Support! I was wondering were do all the old programmers go? They can't all end up in management. I know we don't get paid enough to take early retirement. Is there some other career that tends to attract 40+ year old programmers, if so I'd like to know, because I'm not that far of 40 myself!"

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First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

node159 (636992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275193)

First Post!

Re:First Post! (4, Funny)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275219)

Ah that's what you do after 40 eh?

Re:First Post! (0, Offtopic)

m0topilot (724010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275227)


Re:First Post! (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275286)

I see someone's internet access is 40 years old too. Time for an upgrade? (I kid, I kid)

Sixth Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275269)

Sorry, I'm too old to make First Post any more....

Simple. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275198)

As you get older, your brain changes configuration. You don't want/can't learn as fast, or don't care about the details anymore.

Re:Simple. (4, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275336)

This is total bullshit if I've ever read it. At 42, I can still out-think and out-code many of those 1/2 my age. Of course I code a lot smarter than before, so while I may generate fewer lines of code, they're much, much better than what I used to code. And I definitely still care about the details.

I can't speak for all old coders, but I got kind of tired of coding just for the sake of coding. You can only do an implementation of a queue so many times before you ask yourself why you're writing it. I started a company with another guy, and we are a solution provider. Part of my time is spent with customers, and part of it coding. I much prefer this way of doing things because I can produce better results and my customers get a better product. Maybe all the old coders move on to smaller companies where they can be closer to the end user.

Re:Simple. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275379)

Doesn't matter, because there are always people who specialize in legacy applications until they retire. My immediate predicessor programmed in Cobol and RPG [] , until she retired at 65.

That being said, I'm sure most of them do move into management as their specialties become obsolete, and why not? I'd rather be managed by someone who had technical knowledge, than someone who just has an MBA. And in your mid-50's, do you still want to be jumping on the next new thing, learning it down to the core, and then rolling it out into production? That's a young person's game.

They get executed when they turn 40 (nt) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275199)


Loony Bins (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275207)

They're all in sanitariums, driven insane by debugging assembler for countless hours.

Bankruptcy or Public Service (5, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275209)

Seems to be the only other choices. Private industry, since globalization and commodity coding offshore, has no place for old programmers anymore. They cost too much in salary and benefits in comparison to a young person just out of college, preferably India Institute of Technology, where they train the next generation of yes men.

Re:Bankruptcy or Public Service (5, Interesting)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275316)

My father is an IIT graduate who worked on (among other things) Project MAC at MIT in the 70's. He ended up becoming an executive by the 80's but quit so he could go back to being a developer. And, like you said, it's hard for people his age to find work in the private sector. He eventually settled in as a systems architect for Apple, of all places. I guess they realize (unlike most companies, which, as you said, dump their old hands in favor of cheap noobs) that it doesn't matter that he costs twice as much, because he's ten times the programmer they'll get by recruiting straight out of schools.

Re:Bankruptcy or Public Service (5, Insightful)

vectorian798 (792613) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275318)

preferably India Institute of Technology, where they train the next generation of yes men.

Agreed with everything except that last clause there. Do you really know what you are talking about or are you just randomly talkin' out your ass? Whether you are a 'yes man' or not, is completely based on your own personality and not where you go to college. I think what you meant to say is that 'preferably IIT, which has typically churned out excellent graduates' (note: I am at UCB not IIT, so this is by no means a biased statement).

Re:Bankruptcy or Public Service (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275341)

The real problem with old programmers that I've seen is that they figure they're owed a huge salary even though their skills haven't kept up with modern needs. Of course, this is based on a limited and invalid sample. It't not like time in is a valid reason to expect a high wage - experience counts, but productivity counts a hell of a lot more.

Re:Bankruptcy or Public Service (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275381)

no place for old programmers anymore

Maybe not for you, but there are for lots of others. A good coder (one who understands the "why" instead of just the "how") is still in demand. I turn down good opportunities a lot because I'm too busy with what I'm doing today.

Do not be afraid. (5, Funny)

douglips (513461) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275210)

40 year old programmers are recycled into yummy treats called "cheetos" and fed to proto-programmers. It's the circle of life.

Re:Do not be afraid. (2, Funny)

UnderDark (869922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275246)

not cheetos, soylent "Vista"

Re:Do not be afraid. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275260)

So really, the answer is that old programmers are now Soylent Green.

Re:Do not be afraid. (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275372)

Woo, it's the six-degrees game.

Soylent Green [] => Computer Space [] => arcade game [] => Pac-Man [] => eating cheetos / circle (of life, sorta kinda)

Re:Do not be afraid. (1)

dkh2 (29130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275378)

Oh No! I'm a 44 yr old programmer! Does this mean I have to report to the processing plant?

Many 40+ programmers become sysadmins. Other career changes include (but are not limited to) teacher, business analyst, fry cook, DMV counter clerk, minister/pastor/priest, and my favorite - CowboyNeal.

Don't tell anyone else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275211)

Ever see Logan's Run? It's kind of like that.

Re:Don't tell anyone else (1)

ToasterofDOOM (878240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275370)

No, but my first thoughts were of Ayn Rand's Anthem. Thy just go to the Home of the Useless and wait around to die.

Where they go, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275213)

To the great work queue in the sky.

suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275215)


One Word (1)

Wingit (98136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275216)


The Barrier (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275218)

This interests me as I'm going to turn 40 next February. Is there some kind of energy barrier that strips away programming skills at 40? I hope to god it's not like Logan's Run [] !!

Re:The Barrier (3, Funny)

kibbey (96367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275360)

Relax, all the old coders (like me) are still here fixing the crap the youngsters keep trying to pass off as working code.

They get a life? (4, Insightful)

TERdON (862570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275220)

... or possibly, there just aren't that many programmers over 40. Most educations aimed at programming started approximately 15-20 years ago or less. If you were programming before that, it wasn't very likely that you had been educated for programming, but for something else...

Re:They get a life? (1)

metternich (888601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275377)

My aunt was a programmer when she was young, (she's 62 now,) but she got board of it and moved on to other things. She's a curator at a Museum now.

Re:They get a life? (3, Informative)

helicologic (845077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275382)

This is interesting. I'll be fifty next year, and I program for a living. But you're right, I didn't train as a programmer. I have a PhD in computer science. In the 70s and 80s "programming" was hardly considered worthy of *undergrad* courses, let alone graduate courses -- it was just assumed if you were smart enough to do CS, you could figure out programming on your own.

I'm still around and programming because I have the foundations to pick up new technologies very quickly (and perspective of history to tell the good from the bad). These reasons are probably why my employer is willing to pay a premium to hire me, while yes, IIT grads are making (i would guess) 1/4 my salary on other projects in my corporation.

Re:They get a life? (1)

Lawbeefaroni (246892) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275398)

So if you weren't "educated" in programming but merely spent 20+ years doing it, you wren't really a programmer?

I know a few over-50 programmers. One sells used cars (via the internet for a B&M dealer, getting raped with $30 per sale commission!). Another is retired but does tax prep during the tax season for extra cash. Yet another speculates in real estate.

I guess the answer is they do whatever they can to get by. They don't continue programming.

Re:They get a life? (1)

logicpaw (868693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275399)

... or possibly, there just aren't that many programmers over 40. Most educations aimed at programming started approximately 15-20 years ago or less. If you were programming before that, it wasn't very likely that you had been educated for programming, but for something else...

There were lots of colleges and universities that offered computer science degrees in the 1960's and '70's. Berkeley offered both EECS and CS degrees in the early 70's. All those graduates are 50 or even 60 years old now.

BASIC programmer never die.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275221)

they gosub and don't return

Two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275229)

Soylent Green

Old programmers? (2, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275230)

Old programmers? Heavens no!

When their crystals turn color, they go through Carousel and are never heard from again.

Government Work (4, Interesting)

dch24 (904899) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275231)

I am a contractor at a government installation. Without going into too much detail about what it is I do I can say this: civil service jobs in the US are where a lot of over-40 programmers go because the benefits of working for the US government are pretty good:

1. Your employer is the largest (fill in the blank) anywhere.
2. Your employer can't fire you. Civil servants basically can't be fired unless they do something completely crazy like "go postal."
3. The pay's not great, but the people are pretty laid back. And most of them are over 40.

Re:Government Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275424)

Your taxes (not?) at work

Mid-life Career Change? (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275232)

I used to take an advanced literature course in college. I loved to read but I knew that the placement for jobs meant I had remain a computer science major.

My professor told me that maybe I should save up money writing code and then apply for a professor position at a college or get a teaching degree.

Maybe it's conducive for one who programs computers to have a yearning for a different job and once they have enough financial backing, they take the plunge?

I haven't yet discounted teaching as a future profession ... but I'm only 23 ...

Re:Mid-life Career Change? (1)

Morgalyn (605015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275393)

Hmmm. I am also 23, and pondering where I'll go after I save up enough money doing this software engineering thing. And teaching is definitely on the list!


Re:Mid-life Career Change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275419)

Stop wasting your time, learn some business and at least be self-employed. You will never be doing what you want since you will have to be making money to support what you want to do. Being rich is impossible owrking for someone else.

Well.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275233)

You ever hear of Mountain Dew? It's old programmers, I tell you! Mountain Dew is old programmers!

Law school... (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275234)

...atleast in my case.

I am a pretty decent coder, acoording to my bosses. Technical management can only take one so far. An IP lawyer who knows what he is doing should do pretty well (assuming I keep up with technology).

I would code until retirement, but it just doesn't seem realistic for a variety of reasons.

Re:Law school... (1)

sharkb8 (723587) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275433)

Same here. I'm a 3L working at an IP firm in NY. I programmed for 6 1/2 years before going to Law School. Now every time we get a softwre patent case, it ends up on my desk, and I haven't even graduated yet.

I figured it was either Law School or management.

Silicon Heaven, of course! (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275235)

> Where Do All of the Old Programmers Go?

Silicon heaven [] , of course.

(No such thing as Silicon Heaven? Preposterous! Just ask the collection of HP calculators nobly enshrined atop the PDP-11 in my basement!)

They're in one of a few places.... (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275236)

1) Management

2) Downsized because of obsolete skillset and looking for a new job

3) Starting their own business (either related to IT or not), most likely resulting from #2

Seriously I'd evaluate your skillset at this time and think about where you're going from here. If you're still sharp you might find yourself pulled into management, if you're not so sharp, start thinking about your career away from your company...

Over 40 years old developers.... (0)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275237)

Are the dudes that dig in your trash.

Thats what knowing COBOL brings you in the long run !!!

Re:Over 40 years old developers.... (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275329)

> Are the dudes that dig in your trash.
> Thats what knowing COBOL brings you in the long run !!!

But only the ones who learned it recently enough that there was support in OO COBOL for garbage collection.

Re:Over 40 years old developers.... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275353)

I am in my [mumblesomthing] mid-40's, and even I think of COBOL as for "old timers"!

Can I guess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275242)

To Hell?

As they used to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275245)

Old programmers don't die, they just fade away.

New Careers (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275253)

Most wake up and realize that the company views them the same way they view the janitors: necessary maintenance workers. Few companies have "career paths" for IT staff. Start thinking about fast food franchise opportunities or working your way into managment.

I don't think anyone knows... (2, Interesting)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275255)

I don't think anyone knows... simply because most programmers aren't that old, the management and IT fields have been able to contain them.

The article asks a question that might have an interesting answer in the future, but I'd have to say that as programmers no longer fit in other areas, they'll just continue to program until they retire. Until this point they could move on to something else.

I guess the real question asked here is - Will management and IT grow at a rate large enough to absorb aging programmers, or will either
a. the programmers continue to program or
b. a new sort of job is created for these aging programmers

well, when i turned 40... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275256)

i moved to Hawaii, bought a motorcycle, and became a surfer.

You can have ours.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275257)

Where do they go? They're still here! Waxing nostalgic about their PDP-11s, VAXen, card punches, and timeshare systems...

That is, the ones that didn't kill themselves by drinking too much coffee...

Actually, they leave before they turn 40... (1)

gorus (249583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275259)

...because long before 40, they realize programming is a commodity and they will soon be replaced by a younger/cheaper/etc. worker.

If we told you, we'd have to... (5, Funny)

ddent (166525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275268)

Fortunately you are almost 40 and won't have to be wondering in suspense for too long, but you can start saying your goodbyes to your friends and neighbours. Just tell them your going on a trip and you don't know exactly when you'll be back. We don't want to attract too much attention to our operations. At the stroke of midnight, we'll be dropping by. You can bring a couple boxes with you if you like, though you'll be well provided for even if you don't.

look forward to your exciting new career ... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275270)

... in unemployment! Younger IT workers are cheaper, and more familiar with newer technologies at the same time!

Re:look forward to your exciting new career ... (4, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275423)

Younger IT workers are cheaper, and more familiar with newer technologies at the same time!

As a bonus, they can make the same old mistakes all over again!

tired brain (1)

dotnetNihat (936394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275274)

Maybe it becomes hard to think and concentrate at or above that age and so they move to other areas that require less focus and attention. After all, the younger you are the more fluid brain you have.

Back to School (3, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275278)

I'm 41, a former programmer, and thats where I am - getting my MBA (and currently managing development outsourced to India). A good friend of mine has left the development world and gone back to Law School. Not an uncommon story.

Well (1)

this great guy (922511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275279)

Were do all the old programmers go?

Well you see, my son, where people get very old, one day they have to leave their family and friends, to go visit a very old man living far away from here, in the mountains, in his small house. Then they never go back, but when that happens they are not sad, they are actually happy because they know they had a good life.

Law School (4, Interesting)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275280)

I realized a few years ago that your typical lawyer doesn't know jack about technology, and you're typical IT person doesn't know jack about the law, judging by the number of Slashdot posters who run their mouths about IP rights without understanding them, or asserting the right to do things that they clearly have no right to do (note: saying you should have a right that you don't have is fine, saying you do have a right that you don't have is ignorant; this is the practice I'm referring to).

So I decided that, since I'm an argumentative armchair law nerd, I may as well get paid for it.

But mostly, I want out of IT because it's generally unstable and I don't find the work to be satisfying. The contributions I wish to make to the world do not lie in software development, and so I'm getting out.

Re:Law School (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275403)

That rights exist only within the law is an opinion mostly held by lawyers. Many of us hold that instead many rights exist independently of the law, and thus we may argue that we have these rights whether the law says we do or not.

As an example: when slavery was legal, slaves still had a right to be free, but the law disagreed.

Hidden with the mainframe people or... (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275291)

...selling cars. Small companies ditch old programmers, but big companies keep them back in the mainframe shop.

Some work as consultants as well.

They don't exist. (1)

phishtrader (741975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275295)

At least not in large numbers. Computers really didn't penetrate the business world on a massive scale until the last fifteen years or so. Additionally, many of the older IT workers that I've met have educations and backgounds not in CompSci/IT, but in other fields. Some of those older workers may have migrated back into their original fields.

Old C programmers don't die (5, Funny)

bsartist (550317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275299)

... they're just cast into void*

Re:Old C programmers don't die (2, Funny)

tktk (540564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275442)

You don't you mean /dev/null ?

Funny... But True! (1)

hzs202 (932886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275305)

I was wondering were do all the old programmers go?

They end up teaching Advanced VBA Solutions at NYU!

I'm 50 and still going (1)

bfmorgan (839462) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275309)

I have retooled my skills many times and expect to retool many more. I like the challenge of programming/IT and am willing to learn new cool stuff as it comes along and evaluate its applicabilities. I know that some managers think that if you are over 40 you can't do "programming". I had a job interview at a National Lab and the manager (thrity something) say that she couldn't imagine that she would be able to contribute when she got near retirement. I didn't take the job. Keep your skill sharp and you'll do ok.

Rumours say (1)

mkro (644055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275312)

...they branch to a new address.

Consulting (1)

waif69 (322360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275314)

Most of the older programmers I know, when downsized have gone independent. They lose benefits, but many have a wife with good benefits. Therefore they work 6-9 months out of the year, telling businesses what do do, for decent money and lower stress.

Getting ready to switch (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275320)

Working for an Engineering firm in IT, taking classes and working toward a degree in groundwater chemistry. Time to move on... the fun was over abaout 10 years ago. There really isn't anything new to learn and I want to use my brain again.

Answered your own question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275321)

Those that are over 40 tend to be in either Management or IT Support! I was wondering were do all the old programmers go?

Those people in management had to start somewhere, you know. Most of them started (and finished) by writing COBOL... which sort of explains why management are the way they are...

They are still involved in development ... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275323)

They are still involved in development, they just know better than to get involved in the high profile / high risk / 80 hour a week stuff. They work on boring things you don't hear about on slashdot, and only work around 40 hours a week so they have more time for the new convertible and new blonde that comes with the mid life crisis.

Soylent Green (1)

boldtbanan (905468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275324)

Soylent green is....old programmers!

Old Programmers Never Die (1)

MondoMor (262881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275328)

They just get picked up by the garbage collector so their space can be re-allocated later.

*OLD* programmers? (1)

AssetYoYo (519376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275330)

I've been surprised at the number of "former" IT personnel I meet in related fields, like asset management, technical management, procurement, maintenance support, etc. being technical experts or consultants. I don't want to program any more, but enjoy being the guy who still keeps a deck of Hollerith cards and can write scripts in vi when the GUI kids give up. And 40 ain't old. Remember it fondly.

Unless you absolutely LOVE to code, (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275339)

If you are still programming in your 40s instead of hiring other folks to program for you, you are probably a loser.

Start a business and let someone else be your code monkey. By 50 if you are still staring at streams of code all day, you will fucking go blind.

They shoot Old Programmers, don't they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275349)


They WORK (2, Insightful)

maiden_taiwan (516943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275351)

They go to companies who appreciate them.

My company is aggressively hiring software engineers right now. When we interview a senior developer who really knows what he/she is talking about it, it's like a breath of fresh air.

It's true you can get more raw work done by two junior bodies vs. one senior engineer at twice the price, but when your production database server is dying under load, you want the engineer with experience to be there.

Working maintenance? (1)

Tyger (126248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275352)

20+ years ago, C wasn't so common. Career programmers didn't work in the same environment. They still have those jobs, but they are different enough that they don't tend to work in the same fields as new programmers.

Just my guess.

Some become authors, scuba instructors, CEOs... (1)

adrenaline_junky (243428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275358)

I've met several dive masters and scuba instructors that said they used to work in IT. The main reason that I remember this detail is that it is an occasional fantasy of mine to chuck all of this crap and move to a nice dive spot and become a dive master.

Several famous SF authors were also programmers at one time. I don't want to throw out names from memory since I could get a few wrong, but I'm quite certain that I've seen quite a few authors list programming in their employment histories. Perhaps someone else with a better memory can throw out a few names?

I believe that the ex-CEO of Delta, Leo Mullen (sp?), was an IT consultant at one time.

So, there's a few things I can think of off the top of my head.

I went... (1)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275366)

... into Math.

Not that I'm old (~30). But, I was one of those that got sac'd in the dot bomb. So, I went back to school in Physics and ended up in Math.

One of my buddies that was ~30 at the time of the layoff went back to school and is graduating in a week or two as a plumber. Lifetime of work for him indeed.

I imagine others went back to school as well.

Another buddy is doing some contract work (around my age). But not full time.

I'd imagine though, if the people are actually good by the time they get to ~40, they would have accumulated enough experience to get steady contract work. They'd earn a tonne more money that way and that's a good incentive right there.

So, consultant/contractor is where they'd be... maybe.

I know, for I have seen it (1)

J. T. MacLeod (111094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275371)

We have an old programmer here.

Yes, they do exist. Ours is hidden away in a windowless office, accompanied by his AS/400 and potted plant. What does he do all day? No one knows. Whatever it is, it's not much, and most of his hours are spent checking stock prices and surfing eBay. Some say he used to code RPG, and that when something goes wrong, he may still...

Yes, old programmers live secluded lives as they find jobs where they live maintaining their ancient code. Never fired, because the companies are too afraid of the cost of switching to something modern.

Yes, today you may be aggravated with that faceless entity who refuses to do something as simple as ODBC. Realize that he won't do it because he's running a prehistoric edition of OS/400 and realizes that he won't be able to maintain an upgraded install.

And realize that one day... that man will be YOU.

Um .... (1)

airrage (514164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275373)

Top 3 Ideas for 40+ programmers:

1) Jump to Conclusions mat. You see, it's a mat with conclusions on them ...
2) Wait for Y3K conversion consultant gig.
3) Make fortran games.

Management (1)

c_woolley (905087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275374)

Unless the person is worthless, the company should be putting him/her in management. If not, the company is wasting the resources they have spent "building" that individual to that level. That is why promotion potential in a job is so valuable. If there are absolutely no promotions, or little opportunity, it leads to dissatisfied workers. This holds true, even if the company is paying top dollar for the worker. Promotion is needed. Once the person is sitting at the top of the food chain, retirement is what they should be looking forward to...and now, on to retirement benefits.

They just keep working, probably. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275387)

I'm going to be sixty next year. When I was forty, I was working with about four other programmers, also in their forties. All five of us are still working as programmers today.

I made it to 50! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275389)

I made it to 50, then the bubble burst and a few thousand resumes later I gave up. I am now a wedding photographer...


They keep programming? (1)

Musteval (817324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275401)

Both my parents are in their late 50s, and still programming. Flawed observation --> flawed conclusion, etc.

At least Old Programmers Never Die (3, Interesting)

Aging_Newbie (16932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275408)

From Google:

Old programmers never die, they just lose their memory
OLD PROGRAMMERS never die, they just byte it
OLD PROGRAMMERS never die, they just decompile
OLD PROGRAMMERS never die, they just get bugged with life
OLD PROGRAMMERS never die, they just go to bits ...
Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address. -
Old programming wizards never die, they just recurse.
Old PROGRAMMERS never die, they just can'tC as well.

Different Jobs (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275409)

They get different jobs. I dont know a lot of older programmers, but the ones that I have met were not in the best of jobs. I think it just happens to be how much effort they put into keeping up with new technologies.

Like theoretical mathematics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275411)

...programming is a young man's game. I don't know the reason exactly. It may be that the rate of change in the software industry is so high that experience doesn't matter as much as flexibility. It may be that good programmers are good regarless of age, so it doesn't make sense to pay a 40 year old's salary when you can pay a 26 year old for the same work. I have no idea....but I know that it's really hard to find 50 year old programmers who are worth as much as you have to pay them.

That being said, I think everyone who manages software developers needs to write code every day. It doesn't mean you spend your whole day doing it, but you have to keep your skills sharp or else you won't be able to manage your team. If you're managing managers, that's a different story, but architects and project leads need to code every day or else they become worthless.

Logan 5 will get old programmer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275417)

Unless they run their only chance of survival is to be reborn in the fiery ritual of carousel!

We get distracted (2, Interesting)

kfstark (50638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275422)

I'm not quite 40 yet, but I am approaching it in the next couple of years.

I don't really enjoy coding as much as I used to. I want to go home to my family and friends. I want interpersonal relationships that enhance my life. I don't want to dedicate my life to learning the increasing amount of new technologies. I can accomplish more by making sure the people working for me are coding well and producing good work. I would argue that coding is a dead end job unless you are one of the best. Algorithm development, program design, project management and debugging are much more fun and take more skill than writing code to a spec. Solving complex problems and working in complex personal relationships are rewarding and fun. They don't allow time for the attention necessary for good coding. However, you can't be really good at these roles without a coding background

As you get more experience, you are called on to do more and more things and have less time to devote to coding. Also, I have found that I enjoy it less and less. I like working with people and tackling problems that are more complex and involve human interaction. I haven't found a good reason to keep my skills perfectly up to date, since I can accomplish more work by making a good design and saving other people's time.

Also, I want to work on my own projects, not the coding assignment that somebody else hands me.


I know a guy who quit Northrup after 20+ years... (1)

v3xt0r (799856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275429)

I guess he got fed up being known as 'the dinorsaur' or whatever they called him.

He had saved up a few hundred grand, turned in his resignation, and moved to So. Carolina to buy some land/property. He then started his own chicken farm, and works PT @ the 'big' Wal-Mart there, as a door-greeter.

He claims to be happier than ever...

Too each his own I guess! =o

*I pray that doesn't happen to me! =p

wow.. err... WoW (1)

Ctawp (813135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275430)

They hit 40, they realize they love their relationship with their computer but coding is too tedious. Thus, they quit their jobs and play WoW obsessively, some succeeding in turning it into a job and selling off gold and items to the lowly 20-40 year olds who work for their money and don't have enough time to play to be uber. Oh, the vicious circle of life.

Burn Out (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275438)

Many of the older, oldschool programmers I know just got tired of doing it and went and did something else. Programming may not pay you enough to retire early, but if you're halfway intelligent about it you can save enough to take enough time off (or just cut way down on your hours) to get whatever education you need to start doing what you love, then subsidize the income from that if need be.

I know several older programmers who have gone into teaching, public service, or just started small businesses that are completely unrelated to programming. I know one who builds sand castles for a living now.

Programming for the man rapidly eats away at your soul. It's only fitting that it should be a path to doing something you can be proud of.

Listen, Sonny, (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275440)

Ask the guy sweeping up after hours at your neighborhood bar, sifting peanut shells for loose change.

Actually, my case may be unusual because I didn't start programming until my late 30s, but I'm 43 and writing AJAX and XSLT as a consultant for a good-sized internet property, where are you?

Real Estate (1)

sunilrkarkera (233516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275441)

After the dot com bomb, many programmers (especially the older ones) in the Silicon Valley became real estate agents. The real estate market was not affected too much by the dot com bomb.

In mgmt I guess (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275443)

I run my own company. Some stuff is passed on to younger programmers, some I do myself. I am in my 50's now and nwo I use C++. I've used over 13 languages and programmed on over 13 platforms so I guess that means I had to learn more than 13 editors.

Thank gawd for small mercies. I now use Xemacs.

While I have so many things to do that I cannot get the time to focus as I did when I was younger, I find that I have a much better idea of what needs to be done. It is fine to leap tall buildings with a single bound but often young whipper snappers leap over the worng buildings.

I'll probably still be a developer when I am 80.

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