Gray Hair Everywhere...
So nice to see my fellow fossils reminiscing. Thought I'd toss in my own $0.02.
I wrote my first program while in high school in 1972. On a "retired in place" IBM 1404. In FORTRAN IV. Using punched cards (still have a couple of the decks). Lots of blinkenlights.
Joined the US Navy after high school. Learned to program the venerable CP-642B. In machine code. By pushing front panel buttons. To. Load. Each. Instruction. Until we wrote a program to access the paper tape reader. Then we were able to enter machine code on paper tape. The punchings from the paper tape fell into the "Bit Bucket". S'truth!
Got my first PC in 1979, an Apple ][ Plus. With the Language Card and UCSD Pascal. And a 300 baud Hayes modem. Soon upgraded the 5.25" floppies to massive 8" drives. I may have filled one side of an 8" floppy. Maybe.
Was so impressed with Pascal (compared to BASIC) I left the Navy in 1981 and went to UCSD. Hacked on 4.1BSD, primarily on the brand-new networking stack, particularly sockets. In minor ways I helped convince folks to skip 4.2BSD and go straight to 4.3BSD. l also got to work on quorum-based distributed filesystems. Spent lots of time on the Arpanet (before and during the Milnet/Internet split). Graduated in 1986.
Entered industry and immediately specialized in embedded real-time systems: Instruments, sensors, and control systems. Generally avoided systems that interacted with humans, focusing more on M2M. Devices for things like nuclear power plants, nuclear subs, aircraft, UAVs, ultra-high-speed digital video cameras, satellites, and much more. 8-bits at the start, multi-core 64-bits now. Boxes are smaller and don't get so hot any more. Haven't burned a finger in over a decade.
Wonderful toys, each and every one of them. Couldn't imagine having more fun. And I get paid to do it!
My only career goal has been to stay out of management. Mostly successful at that, but not always.
I'll turn 62 next month, and I have no plans to retire. I'll keep doing this until they pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands.