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Thread: above 50 years old and still programming

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    above 50 years old and still programming

    I know that some of you is more than 50 years old already and still programming, my worry is that, can we keep on doing it until we retire?
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    .NUT jmcilhinney's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    I'm about to turn 45 and have no doubt that I'll be doing it until I'm well over 50. They're raising the retirement age in Australia to 70 so I expect to be doing it until then at least. If I stopped doing it professionally right now then I'd keep doing it as a hobby. Maybe I won't be quite so keen in 25 years but I expect I'll keep my hand in at least even then. Who knows what programming will look like that far into the future though.

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    Fanatic Member namrekka's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Well....as long I can type.
    You are right about how fast the technology goes. But bits and bytes will not change if you understand what I mean. Also the experience we have build up gives us an advantage.

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    PowerPoster Nightwalker83's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcilhinney View Post
    I'm about to turn 45 and have no doubt that I'll be doing it until I'm well over 50. They're raising the retirement age in Australia to 70 so I expect to be doing it until then at least. If I stopped doing it professionally right now then I'd keep doing it as a hobby. Maybe I won't be quite so keen in 25 years but I expect I'll keep my hand in at least even then. Who knows what programming will look like that far into the future though.
    At least you have a job in IT. I still can not find a job in IT and have been searching for ages.
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    PowerPoster SJWhiteley's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker83 View Post
    At least you have a job in IT. I still can not find a job in IT and have been searching for ages.
    You don't need a job in IT to have programming as an essential component of the job.
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    PowerPoster techgnome's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    I've always thought they would have to pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands... lately though... not so much. I'm not sure how much more I have left in me. If I could just code, lead a team and not have to worry about politics or management and just get the job done, I'd be much happier. But at the rate things are going...

    -tg
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    tg, even worse when you have another manager that likes to try to throw you under the bus to cover his own a$$.

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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    I certainly hope to still be programming when I top 50...cause that's only a couple years away.
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Well old Les Paul kept tinkering and inventing as well as picking and strumming as long as he could until the arthritis froze his fingers. You can find him on YouTube Chasing Sound into his 90s anyway.

    Can we do less?

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    Wall Poster TysonLPrice's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by dee-u View Post
    I know that some of you is more than 50 years old already and still programming, my worry is that, can we keep on doing it until we retire?
    From here:

    http://www.computer.org/portal/web/awards/cp-samuel

    Samuel remained an active computer programmer long after age forced him to give up active research. His last work, continued until past the age of 85 involved modifying programs for printing in multiple type fonts on some of the Stanford Computer Science Department's computers. We believe he was the world's oldest active computer programmer. The computer he used tells us that he last logged into it on February 2, 1990. This was after Parkinson's disease stopped his active work.
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    TG, as you mentioned leading teams I'm guessing you've started to move up the management chain yourself. If so I had exactly the same experience. I enjoyed coding, I loved leading my team, I hated having to deal with the rest of the company. For me the answer was simply to step off the management chain. To keep the same income I switched to contracting.
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    PowerPoster techgnome's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    That's the thing... I'm NOT on the management track. We have two tracks, a management one and a "professional" one... I've been clear since day 1 that I don't want to be a manager. Zero ambition there. The problem is this #$%^&^%$#$%^ project I'm on... the client is penny pinching and the PM is a micromanager, the project went off the rails the day it was kicked off... and it's a complete mess... our third party developers... leave a lot to be desired... I don't want to have to care about costs, time or budgets... I wish I could jsut hand the developers the spec, and say "you've got three weeks to make this work, figure it out..." but I can't... even when I do give them specific instructions, they still find a way to muck it up (I did a code review of some work last night... I had to log out, it was so bad, it was making me sick). I'm spending so much time on the management crap, I don't have time to devote to the technical details that I need to. And when I do, I'm spending so much time putting all the minute details into the work items, that in the same amount of time I could have jsut done the work myself.

    -tg
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  13. #13
    PowerPoster Nightwalker83's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by SJWhiteley View Post
    You don't need a job in IT to have programming as an essential component of the job.
    True but if it is the only qualification I have I'm not sure what else I can do?
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    Wall Poster TysonLPrice's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker83 View Post
    At least you have a job in IT. I still can not find a job in IT and have been searching for ages.
    ...someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries.
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    Super Moderator dday9's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Y'all are old!

    Thought I'd put it out there. I would love to continue programming and I can't wait to see how programming changes over the next 27 years(I'll be 50 in 27 1/2 years).
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    Fanatic Member namrekka's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by dday9 View Post
    Y'all are old!
    Hmmm....
    You must be glad not being my son!

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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by namrekka View Post
    Hmmm....
    You must be glad not being my son!
    I am! I sure love my dad.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post

    Can we do less?
    Yes! I strongly believe that we CAN do less. I think the evidence clearly supports my belief, too.
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    Yes! I strongly believe that we CAN do less. I think the evidence clearly supports my belief, too.
    Sounds like quitter talk.

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    Super Moderator RobDog888's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    I think as we get older our priorities change and want to have some kind of life before we kick the bucket and not die behind a monitor. So I would say that if one can keep up with the ever changing technology then they could program for as long as they have sharp wits about them and not be going senile writing apps that are so off base (or program too slow) that they get fired

    I think I only have a few years left in me as I wont be getting rich even as a senior engineer and have more possibilities from running my own business. I think as my business takes off more and more I will eventually flip them so my business is my primary income and I contract program on the side to supplement my income
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    Addicted Member 3com's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    In my younger a computer filled an entire room, was an exclusive place for gurus, and used punched cards, (1,0).
    Now you can control a computer with your mind, without having to use your hands.
    And I came to the conclusion that the universe of programming and computer science in general runs much faster than me.
    I guess one day we will see a miniature robot traverse the human body, diagnose the disease and apply the appropriate remedy, or regenerate damaged cells, neurons recover lost, etc..

  22. #22
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by RobDog888 View Post
    before we kick the bucket and not die behind a monitor.
    Well, if you do, be sure to release your resources so you don't mess up other threads.
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    Wall Poster TysonLPrice's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    In my younger a computer filled an entire room, was an exclusive place for gurus, and used punched cards
    My guess is you are confusing tapes drives and DASD for computers. Those are what filled up the room. The computer was the tiny, dusty, innocuous little box in the corner of the room with manuals piled on top of it
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    PowerPoster Nightwalker83's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by TysonLPrice View Post
    ...someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries.
    Although, I don't think those industries would allow me to make use of my IT training.
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    Wall Poster TysonLPrice's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker83 View Post
    Although, I don't think those industries would allow me to make use of my IT training.

    Hopefully you recognized that as a quote from Ghost Busters
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by TysonLPrice View Post
    Hopefully you recognized that as a quote from Ghost Busters
    Dude, that was like two years ago!
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    Wall Poster TysonLPrice's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by SJWhiteley View Post
    Dude, that was like two years ago!
    Try 30...
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    Karen Payne MVP kareninstructor's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    I am 58 years old (been a developer for 20 years), expected life span in my family averages 100 so I better keep loving programming or find something to keep me occupied for the years to come. Did team lead for five years but gave it up for a better paying developer position but would consider management. Right now I think development is a clear road ahead for me unless something changes radically.

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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    the client is penny pinching and the PM is a micromanager, the project went off the rails the day it was kicked off... and it's a complete mess... our third party developers... leave a lot to be desired...
    Way to focus on the positives, TG (It does sound pretty sucky though)

    How come you're getting so much ownership of the problems if you're not in the management chain? Most of the issues you're describing sound like Business Analyst/Project Manager tasks to me. Is this one of those cases where everyone's running for the hills and you've just been left holding the bomb?

    Edit> Actually this reminds me of the first piece of commercial development I ever did. It was an integration project that involved a third party vendor producing an xml doc from one system that we would then consume in our own. It was meant to be a three month project with a hard deadline and the third party were supposed to supply some example xml docs. They stuck a guy on it who went quiet for 2 months then left. They stuck another guy on it who sent me an example doc with a fortnight to go... which did not confiorm to the DTD. I pulled two weeks of 80+ hour weeks and just about got it into the client site in time but it was an absolutely horrible experience. Third Party vendors blow chunks.
    Last edited by FunkyDexter; May 7th, 2014 at 08:27 AM.
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    Fanatic Member namrekka's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    .......I pulled two weeks of 80+ hour weeks and just about got it into the client site in time but it was an absolutely horrible experience......
    That comes to the magical formula to calculate how long a project takes:

    ActTime = CalcTime * PI * (Conv(1 Inch).to centimetre)

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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by namrekka View Post
    That comes to the magical formula to calculate how long a project takes:

    ActTime = CalcTime * PI * (Conv(1 Inch).to centimetre)
    Or the old..."a miracule happens here".
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    PowerPoster techgnome's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by TysonLPrice View Post
    Or the old..."a miracule happens here".
    Classic man... classic...

    -tg
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  33. #33
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    This thread got me wondering how the under-50 crowd approaches the ideas of (a.) work after 50 and (b.) retirement in general.


    Some of us had the luxury of starting our careers in a far less labor-hostile and crooked employment environment. I.e. there were places you could work where longevity was rewarded with a pension (now called a "defined benefit plan"), and employers were far more honest about funding these pension plans and not robbing them blind.

    In practical terms this meant that if you settled down after your first few years and then put in 30 to 40 years you could hope for an actual "retirement." Not in the grand style of the wealthy to be sure, but with some care usually enough to live on after downsizing the family home once the kids had left the nest. Especially if you contributed 401K or IRA savings while working.


    This started to change as the labor market got more worker-hostile. A big change was the bait-and-switch from defined benefit to "defined contribution" plans (IRAs, 401Ks and such in the US), which were primarily ways to open retirement funds to a more Las Vegas style stock market with high risk and many hands in the till along the way.


    So today most workers are probably looking at funding "retirement" through some combination of personal savings, proceeds from selling their homes, whatever they have in 401K plans and IRAs after the stock market crash, and government safety-net programs ("Social Security" in the US).

    Things must look a little bit grim for a lot of people. While some will have been excellent savers and investors, I suspect quite a few will have to work far beyond 50, 55, or even 60 years old whether they want to or not. This may be even tighter if they had to help put children through college, had a divorce, a serious illness, etc. along the way.

    It sure makes it less likely you'll be able to put in 30 years, retire early, and start a business or go into contracting for another 10 years or so.


    Are younger workers actively saving all they'll need? Do they plan to take a less demanding job once they burn out? Will we be seeing them mopping up at WalMart, which after all can only employ so many greeters?

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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Also loosely related to this topic:

    Evolution Of The Office Life: To The Cubicle, And Beyond (radio podcast)

    The office has always been a stage for the meaning of white collar work. A miserable “tank” for Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, in Dickens’ time. A corner office seat of glamour and power for Don Draper in Mad Men. Lines of desks and then angsty cubicles for millions in the computer age. Or “open plan,” with Fusbol. Now, work and the workplace are going free agent. To a corner of Starbucks. Or anywhere. And that has meaning too. This hour On Point: the history and future of white collar work and the workplace with Nikil Saval, author of “Cubed.”
    Cubes, yeah. But I can't see a lot of programmers working out of coffee shops.

    I do remember interviewing at a place in the 1970s that was still organized like a school classroom: desks in a grid, facing the boss at a big desk up front.

  35. #35
    PowerPoster techgnome's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    Cubes, yeah. But I can't see a lot of programmers working out of coffee shops.
    Not a lot, but I can see some. I've thought about doing it... meeting with some of my fellow coworkers at the local Panera... be far easier than drivign all the way into work, gets us out of the house where we end up working 75% of the time in the first place... I've done work from the back porch of the house too... But that's because I'm afforded that luxury. We've even had off-sites at the local bar & grille.

    -tg
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  36. #36
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    This thread got me wondering how the under-50 crowd approaches the ideas of (a.) work after 50 and (b.) retirement in general
    Most of us are going to work till we die. Seriously.

    I'm 42 so have a head start on alot of the "under 50s" but none of the companies I've ever worked for has offered a decent pension plan. I've always contributed but the result so far looks like it'll be pretty worthless at retirement. I've therefore saved through other means. I have quite a lot of savings put aside and I plan to own a few rental properties by the time I'm 65/70 and live off the income from them. I've only got the luxury of that because I've worked in a highly paid field, though. How folks who've spent their careers in customer services or stacking shelves are going to get by is completely beyond me.
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    PowerPoster Nightwalker83's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by TysonLPrice View Post
    Hopefully you recognized that as a quote from Ghost Busters
    Nope! I missed that, haven't watch Ghost Busters recently.
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker83 View Post
    Nope! I missed that, haven't watch Ghost Busters recently.
    It was funny if you saw it. My main point being I didn't mean anything offensive by it. It was just one of those classic Bill Murray lines
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    PowerPoster SJWhiteley's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by TysonLPrice View Post
    Try 30...
    I guess you aren't watching politiks (sic) at the moment.
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    PowerPoster SJWhiteley's Avatar
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    Re: above 50 years old and still programming

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    Most of us are going to work till we die. Seriously.

    I'm 42 so have a head start on alot of the "under 50s" but none of the companies I've ever worked for has offered a decent pension plan. I've always contributed but the result so far looks like it'll be pretty worthless at retirement. I've therefore saved through other means. I have quite a lot of savings put aside and I plan to own a few rental properties by the time I'm 65/70 and live off the income from them. I've only got the luxury of that because I've worked in a highly paid field, though. How folks who've spent their careers in customer services or stacking shelves are going to get by is completely beyond me.
    Rental properties, if you can stand the 'work', is quite lucrative, so I've heard (lucrative is a bit strong - It'll earn a decent living for the work involved).

    Pro tip: NEVER invest in a corporate pension plan; always an independent plan (like a 401K).
    "Ok, my response to that is pending a Google search" - Bucky Katt.
    "There are two types of people in the world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data sets." - Unk.
    "Before you can 'think outside the box' you need to understand where the box is."

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