November 05, 2012, 11:09 AM — I'm 56. I'm not a grandfather -- not yet anyway -- but I'm old enough to be one. I first used the Internet in the '70s. My first programming language was IBM 360 Assembler. My first operating system was the IBM mainframe's OS/360. I was the first journalist to write about this new network service called the Web and say it just might matter. You know what? I think I may just know a wee bit about computing.
I'm far from the only one. Lately, though, I've been noticing that the old meme about how grandpa can't understand iPhones, Linux or the cloud seems to be showing up more often even as it's becoming increasingly irrelevant. I've been guilty of using it myself.
Think about it. The big names of our field? Dennis Ritchie, creator of C and Unix, was 70 when he died last year. Ken Thompson, co-creator of Unix, is 67. James Gosling, founder of Java, is 57. Bill Gates is 56. So is Steve Ballmer. Steve Jobs was 56 when he left us. Tim Cook, his successor as head of Apple, is 51.
And it's not just the big names: 27% of social network users are 45 or older.
We baby boomers like to think of ourselves as forever young. We're not. Some of us are now well into retirement. Too many of us of a "certain age" are facing an IT work environment that's hostile to older workers.
I wonder if perhaps that's why I've been hearing more about how "older" people don't get technology. Maybe that's meant to hide the age bias that is the IT business's dirty little secret.