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The 19 generations of computer programmers

Here is our guide to some of the more dominant tech generations in computer history, as embodied by the programmers who gave them life

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C++ programmers

When C programmers looked at the idea of object-oriented programming, they created C++, a baroque version that worked best when the programmer was able to keep track of all the complicated ways code could interact. It took all of the garage-grade DIY intensity and added another way for programmers to prove themselves worthy.

Other language of choice: C

Special skill: Multiple inheritance

Social media strategy: Friendster

Other career choice: Pinball wizard

Clothing: Jeans jacket with safety pins

Rhetorical tic: "Java pretty much broke object-oriented programming."

Car: Ford Explorer

Song: The Clash's "Clash City Rockers"

Favourite artifact: Borland C++ T-shirt

Objective-C programmers (first generation)

There are two groups of people who fell in love with Objective-C: the people who bought a NeXT machine and those who bought an iPhone. The first generation went on to rescue Apple in its darkest days and pull it back from the brink.

Other language of choice: Smalltalk

Special skill: Using InterfaceBuilder

Social media strategy: Subscribes to 42 mailing lists

Other career choice: Wall Street investment banker

Clothing: Hawaiian shirt

Rhetorical tic: "You mean C++ doesn't do that for you?"

Car: Mazda RX-7 or BMW 325

Song: Anything by Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Cat Stevens, or anyone else liked by Steve Jobs

Favourite artifact: NeXT machine

Perl programmers

The simple language for manipulating text files appeared around the same time as the Internet, so when people needed to fix Web servers, they turned first to Perl. If you have text in one format and need to change it - "massage it," in Perl parlance - it may only take 10 to 20 characters. Most of the Perl scripts may be short, but that never stopped some true believers. Slashdot, after all, was built with Perl.

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"

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


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