Why aren't there a lot of old programmers at software companies? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
I will be 69 in a week. I have been programming since 1967. That's 48 years that cover COBOL to jQuery. I have forgotten more programming languages than most programmers will ever encounter. I work now as a contractor because I am so "over" working as an employee that even if I were half my age, I would never again accept a traditional job.
I have probably written 2-3 or even 4 million lines of code in my life, and the bottom line is, "Who gives a rip?" Writing code does not create meaning in my life unless it has a positive impact on people I care about.
So one upside of being old is that I no longer chase somebody's grand hallucination. I stick to basics of getting work done so that people who need it can have a better experience.
But there is a significant downside to being an "old programmer." The world is changing rapidly, and the pace is increasing. 15 years ago, I dove into C+ and became excellent at it. About four years ago, I jumped into jQuery and learned how to hook jQuery and C# together to make super fast user interfaces. I got laid off about three years ago, so I turned my back on C# and dove into WordPress. Now it's Drupal. And the pattern is that learning the new stuff is becoming increasingly difficult. I am still trying to get a WordPress plugin working that uses Local Storage and Web Workers. Debugging this complexity wears out my brain.
But the real bottom line is that I keep programming because I love it and it is the only real skill that I have... other than interpersonal growth and relationship skill building work that I have been diving into for the last 20+ years.
So programming for the left brain and relationship coaching for the right brain keeps me sort of balanced. It must be working because I have been married to the same wonderful woman for 40+ years and I have a pretty good relationship with all three of our children.
I have set a goal to be a programmer for at least 50 years (June 2017) and to become a Co-Leader for The Mankind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure when I am 70. Challenging goals. Check back with me in a couple of years and see how I did.
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