Developer divide: 19 generations of computer programmers

From punch cards to JavaScript, computing history owes everything to those who've programmed the machines

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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 Java.net 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
Social media strategy: Going to a friend's GeoCities page
Other career choice: Chain restaurant manager
Rhetorical tic: "It works on IE 5.5 but not 6.0 yet."
Clothing: Parachute pants
Car: Ford Taurus
Song: Beastie Boys' "So What'cha Want"
Favorite artifact: Netscape Share Certificate

Ruby on Rails programmers
It takes all of 10 minutes to wrap a nice website around MySQL, then years to fiddle with it. The Ruby language offers a clean, low-punctuation syntax, while the Rails framework makes it easy to type the smallest files around. It's almost as if it were designed by carpal-tunnel sufferers.

Other language of choice: SQL
Special skill: Getting your stack to run on JRuby
Social media strategy: Writing a personal version of Facebook in 20 lines of code
Other career choice: Molecular gastronomist
Clothing: Plaid shirt and jeans
Rhetorical tic: "You just need a few tables and you're done."
Car: Minivan
Song: "The Rails Song"
Favorite artifact: 37 Signals T-shirt

Objective-C programmers (second generation)
The second generation of Objective-C lovers appeared during the app gold rush after Apple opened up the iPhone to apps written by outsiders. Suddenly a language slowly dying was reborn.

Other language of choice: JavaScript
Special skill: Figuring out how to make the layout manager work
Social media strategy: Posts pictures to Instagram and Hipstamatic but never uses words
Other career choice: Mortgage foreclosure processor
Clothing: Hoodie
Rhetorical tic: "This will sell millions."
Car: BMW
Song: Feist's "1234" or anything else chosen for an Apple commercial
Favorite artifact: iPod with a wheel

JavaScript programmers (second generation)
Somewhere along the way, JavaScript programming turned into a professional path with snooty ideas and endless debates about what constitutes clean code. Today, many Web pages are powered by sophisticated stacks of code that can only be maintained by skilled coders. The field is now dominated by efficient libraries that abstract away much of the browser incongruities and offer a sophisticated plug-in structure.

Other language of choice: jQuery
Special skill: Closures
Social media strategy: Waiting for App.net
Other career choice: Working as a barista
Clothing: Hoodie
Rhetorical tic: "There's an open source jQuery plug-in that does it."
Car: Fixed-gear bicycle
Song: M83, "Midnight City"
Favorite artifact: DM from Brendan Eich

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