Retired, Apparently

burdettelamar profile image Burdette Lamar ・1 min read

Last week marked the second anniversary of my most-recent paycheck, and next week marks the 76th anniversary of my birth.

So I think I'm retired (unless I get a good job offer).

Now my days are spent working on open-source software on GitHub, some of which turns up as gems on RubyGems.

My career in commercial software began on December 13, 1976, and (apparently) ended on January 27, 2017. Half of that was in Eastern New England, and half in Houston, comprising gigs in:

  • DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation)
  • Micrognosis
  • DEC (again)
  • Di-Tech (not the loan people)
  • Alliant Computer Systems
  • Interleaf
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Visual Numerics
  • Telescan
  • Pentasafe/NetIQ
  • Encomia
  • Emlogis
  • Shell Oil
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • R1Soft

Three gigs as a documentor, five developing applications, and the rest in test automation.

No regrets.

I've been blessed, truly.

So to all y'all still in the industry: Carry the torch, move it forward, hold it high.

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burdettelamar profile

Burdette Lamar


Started out teaching English at Embry-Riddle. Graded 10,000 essays. Lesson learned. Became a mathematics teacher. Discovered computing. Never looked back.


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76 and still contributing to OSS! Hats off to you. I hope that I can write a post like this when I am 76! #goals


FWIW I wouldn't say you are retired, I would say you have just dialed it back a little 😉


I'm 400 in cat years, does that count?


It's good to hear there are others out there for whom age is an irrelevance. I'm close to 71 and in the last year I've learned JavaScript/ES6 (I was previously a Java guy), written a high-level DSL in it, had it accepted by WordPress for their plugin library and used it as the engine for several new websites. I'm having fun so why would I not want to continue?


My dad started working around at the same year and now he is my right-hand.


  • He has experience.
  • He gives trust. He could talk with the customers directly.
  • I can trust on him.

It's amazing how many businesses spoil people with experience because their age and they pick instead millenians. Are they dumb? Well, we talk about HR.


I'm going on 71 with 50 years (started 1968 computer operations IBM mainframes).
I've spent the past 25 years freelancing as an IT consultant and the past 10 years working remotely.
I really enjoy working with the technology, both hardware and software.
I've gained experience with IBM mainframes and DEC computers and gradually moved to Unix and RDBMS administration. I now use Linux on my own systems. Windows gets a VM - that way its easy to get rid of it when it goes sideways.
To all those "old-timers" out there - keep on truckin' - your experience will carry you forward into all of the "new" technologies. It has with me.


Hey. Congratulations! This is inspiring.

I would be truly interested in reading about how you think your cognitive abilities changed over time and how you managed to stay relevant in the job industry. I think 'What will happen to my career as I grow older' is a something most developers worry about.

Congratulations again and happy hacking on Github!


Thanks André. I'm thinking to answer in a new post.


This is super inspiring!
Sorry for a stupid question, but if you've been programming for such a long time - don't you have problems with eyesight? How do you deal with that? I'm 30 years old and my eyesight got significantly worse in the past 2 years (I didn't have to wear glasses until a year ago). As much as I would love to keep programming until the end, it made me think about switching to a career that doesn't require spending most of the time in front of the screen.


Thanks, Sebastian, and not stupid.

In my late 40s, just needed to move the screen a little further away.

After that, drugstore reading glasses (buy online for $3 or less/pair). Most recently, three strengths: book, laptop, TV/driving.

Last month I had cataract surgery, so now ($12K later) I need glasses only for very close work.

Update: 'Cataract surgery' means lens replacement.

Be sure to take frequent breaks, and look far -- out a window if possible.


Regardless of kind of work, with increasing age eyes go worse. Huge natural shift is around 40.


Very inspiring story! I have a somewhat different question. What do you do in order to stay healthy/fit? I wish to be able to do what you do at 76 :)


Thanks, Dennis.

Coupla slogans:

  • Move more, eat less (though I drink too much).
  • Eat good food, mostly plants, not made in a plant.

Update: 'Too much' means too much wine and whiskey.


You drink too much what?

I think, water.

That's not too bad, though too much of it is, just try keeping it in check sir. The world is blessed to have your kind around.


First, hats off to you, a long career is a good one!

How did you deal with changing technology and keeping your 'worth' through the years? I'm a 25 year coding vet who knows many things and has done many jobs, but primarily its all been in PHP, Javascript, and whatever frontend stuff was the new black at the time. I've had a rough year. I got laid off with my entire team in July, i was out of work for 30 days. During that time, I used youtube, udemy and treehouse to update my skills and learn some frameworks I was missing, I had actually started this process back in January of 2018, picking up Vue and React and writing my personal site with them. I was happy that I picked up all this stuff with ease, and within 30 days, I got probably 100 calls for PHP jobs. I took a contract and worked for 30 days before i realized my new employer was not going to meet set expectations. I went back to looking for work, but in that short time, the landscape somehow changed. No one wanted a PHP guy. No one was interested in anything but the flavor of the month, React/Vue/Angular. Recruiters would not get me interviews because their clients were looking for 'frontend developers' and they see SQL on my resume and assume I don't have any frontend, even though my resume reflects that there hasn't been a backend I've ever worked on without also working on the frontend. Employers didn't want to hear that. One of them in an interview that lasted 3 hours, ended with "on a second scan of your resume, I don't see the single job title "Frontend Developer" and he passed on me right there, even after me showing him the portfolio I have built over the years, and my brand spanking new at the time Vue website. This persisted for the next 65 days until I started another PHP job 3 weeks ago. Next week my tasks are to mock up new site designs for a Vue app that I will be part of building. I've heard 'you have no production experience in front end' and recruiters have said, 'it doesn't matter if you've learned any of this on your own, no employer wants that unless you've had production experience'. So there's the catch 22. Junior devs learn from the same sources I do, the internet. There is no college course for React. You cant get a job without exp and can't get exp without a job - except for that, you CAN get exp w/o a job because I'm still building react and vue components in my spare time! I'm sure tech has changed like this within your lifetime, as it has changed during mine. How have you (or anyone reading this!) dealt with the changes and maintaining your paycheck as a dev. The last thing I want to do is go from a Senior Dev salary to a Junior salary because new languages keep sprouting up. I know my core fundamentals, its all just diff syntax from there. Looking fwd to any replies!


Thanks, O.

As for your question, "How did you deal with changing technology and keeping your 'worth' through the years?": André Pena asks something similar above.

I'm expecting to respond in a new post.


Oh my. I believe that you were just unlucky and meet very bad and extremely unexperienced recruiters. I would say just contine searching. There can't be all so bad without capacity to recognize what is important to be a great developer. The experience with front-end or any other technology alone makes nobody a good developer. The brain and ability to adopt makes it.


I am 60 and was made redundant last year. i took a few months off and realized that i missed coding. Have done many courses to learn new things. Failed a few interviews, but haven't given up.
As a Fildenkrais practitioner I know how to learn, I dont feel any decline in my mental or phisical abilities. I know what I want hence can do anything... In theory. One thing I cant change is stigma atached to gender and age.


Congratulations on all of your achievements, I would consider myself blessed to reach even a third of your successes in my lifetime.

As I rapidly approach 47 this month (coding since 17), I have started to consider my legacy and decided that I have a long way to go yet before I quit creating.

You are an inspiration!


So impressive, Burdette! What OSS projects have you been contributing to lately, outside of the gems you've been writing?


Thanks, Jess.

No other projects, yet.

Actually I've been looking at a couple of things on DEV!


!!! We'll be watching out for any incoming PRs 👀


Thanks man, that's really inspiring. I have only 10+ years experience now, and sometimes I'm wondering whether I would be able to still do it after 20 or 30 years, and how it will be different.

Have fun with OSS! It's definitely something that can keep you going, and it also connects you with a lot of people.


Thats a really inspiring post. Keep us posted with your creative stuff :)


Burdette! you're amazing!


Way to go! No one can force you to retire as long as you enjoy what you do and your work provides value to others. Corporates are dumb to not tap into talent such as yours.