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Developer divide: 19 generations of computer programmers

Peter Wayner | Jan. 8, 2013
If you're searching for a fountain of youth, the easiest way to get that feeling of continual rebirth is to hang around a few tech product launches. Every new rollout comes with the fresh, unabashed feeling that this has never been done before. Ever.

Other language of choice: Unix shell scripts

Special skill: Regular expressions

Social media strategy: Arguing on Slashdot

Other career choice: Roboticist building simulated dinosaurs for malls

Clothing: Jacket and T-shirt

Rhetorical tic: "It's the duct tape of the Internet."

Car: Tuned Honda Civic

Song: Pantera's "Cemetery Gates"

Favorite artifact: First edition of O'Reilly's Perl handbook

PHP programmers

Many PHP programmers fell into PHP by accident. They were creating HTML, and they needed a bit of dynamic logic. One tag led to another, and they found themselves creating websites and content-management systems with the code.

Other language of choice: JavaScript

Special skill: Juggling the coding layer and the HTML markup

Social media strategy: More than 1,000 friends on Facebook; still logs into MySpace

Other career choice: Mortgage broker

Clothing: T-shirt depicting logo of pre-bubble startup you've never heard of

Rhetorical tic: "Monetize the eyeballs."

Car: Aging SUV

Song: The Cure's "Just Like Heaven"

Favorite artifact: Orange moped from Kozmo

Java programmers

It was the first great serious language for the Internet, driven by the promise of running everywhere. The desktops never surrendered to the server farms, but the introductory programming classes did. Today it lives on in the hearts of Android programmers.

Other language of choice: Pascal

Special skill: Creating extralong variable names in camel case so that the code is self-documenting

Social media strategy: Attends local Java Users Group meeting each month; checks account for new meetings

Other career choice: Y2K programmer

Clothing: Java One polo shirt

Rhetorical tic: "The JVM will just handle it in another thread."

Car: Mazda Miata

Song: Talking Heads' "Wild Wild Life"

Favorite artifact: Something signed by Jim Gosling

C# programmers

They fell in love with Java but remained loyal to Microsoft, perhaps because the boss insisted on keeping it a Microsoft shop. The code looks similar. The idioms work the same way. It's pretty much the same as Java, but with a few nice fixes worked into the mix.

Other language of choice: .Net

Special skill: Navigating the .Net documentation

Social media strategy: Wondering whether Skype counts as social media

Other career choice: Starbucks barista

Clothing: Freebie Windows 98 tennis cap

Rhetorical tic: "It's really more efficient than the JVM."

Car: Toyota Prius

Song: Nirvana's "Come As You Are"

Favorite artifact: A Windows 8 phone

JavaScript programmers (first generation)

The first group of JavaScript programmers weren't really programmers but Web designers who needed their page to do a bit more. Many just wanted to check the input to make sure it was legit, but an annoying few ushered in the unending era of garish animations.

Other language of choice: HTML

Special skill: Remembering to put the function between script tags


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