The Eight Levels of Programmers

@Charles I think the point is that Rockhard Awesome is keeping the thread hating, Coding Horror up all night and he isn’t paying down his sleep debt as fast as he likes to pay down is technical debt so this represents the interest charges.

Waiting for him to post, Get Off My Lawn!!!

Really Jeff, I love your writing, but you should really correct level 8. It’s not fair to the programmers you mention.
While it may be clear to you, like code, we write to be read, and naming level 8 ‘Dead Programmer’ then listing people who are alive is just bad naming :).

Bill G wrote GWbasic which was on the origional Apple and Pet’s amongst others.

and if you call you self a programmer and dont know that your not even a level 1 programmer - go back to working at macdonalds

Bill Gates did not write GW Basic. But who cares? Jeff couldn’t. He’s too busy curing cancer!

Your list is very subjective Jeff - both the definitions (I don’t think anyone agrees with you that Dead was a good choice of word), and the rankings. I would have kept it more abstract than that.

Also putting an order in programming ability is sort of pointless. I doubt Knuth could out-program Carmack in every situation or vice versa. What’s more to measure is the effect of their output. You don’t have to be an algorithmic genius to help as many people as possible, and neither is all the business knowledge in the world going to help you assemble a team to write Windows.

I wanna rock! ahem, I mean I wanna be a dead programmer. Never thought I’d say that. Maybe @regis’ suggestion of 9. Legendary Programmer is a better name for #8. I hate to knit-pick, but you know, we programmers are a picky lot.


Well, still here at age 54, creating software for real-time/embedded systems, working as an independent contractor. I’ve always enjoyed writing code that interacts with the real world, making the lights blink and the motors turn. And I like learning new things (never an end to that!). Pretty sure I’m a 4, although I see myself as competent rather than average.

@CrashCodes, probably so. He does like his technical debt. I think maybe it’s time to declare bankruptcy

Re: In short, what do you wanna do with your life?

I want to be a damn good programmer, respected in my field and earn a little money.

I think – within my niche – I am there.

Dead programmer:
A programmer who you freak out due to seeing their names on the dead programmer list even if it is not the case.

Sry if this has been said already.

I’m a 3 and (i hope) a 5. I don’t have my sights on 7 or 8, if i get there i get there, all i know is i keep coming back to 3.

Did Knuth die? :frowning:

The hard part is getting from ‘working’ to ‘famous’ and beyond. If you are a working programmer when do you find the time to write that famous paper?

Should I point out the fact that Knuth isn’t dead yet?

Knuth is dead?

Mmm, neither is Alan Kay.

Bit weird to put these two people on the dead programmer level.

  1. Legendary Programmer

Legend tells of a legendary programmer whose coding skills were the stuff of legend. He develops only in his own languages, on machines he built running an OS he created. He writes code not for himself, or for humanity, but for God.

Not only are Knuth and Kay not dead, but Gates, unlike Carmack and DHH, didn’t build a business on his code. He was a programmer, and he built a business around code, but it wasn’t, at least primarily, HIS code that he built his business around.

If you know you’re a bad programmer… does that still make you a bad programmer?

I meant Dead Programmer figuratively, not literally.

As in people will remember you after you’re…