Personally, my favorite book about old coders is Coders At Work (https://www.amazon.com/Coders-Work-Reflections-Craft-Program...). It's a bunch of interviews with programmers who have created programming languages and lots of the fundamental software we all rely on. It showed me what the journey to being a great programmer can look like.
To me, senior is a corporate term. Great programmers build great things. Senior developers get promoted. I sometimes ask young programmers this: Do you care about the craft or the career? I think being a great programmer will make a person money. There aren't that many truly great programmers. But if they're impatient or they don't think they can be great, they can probably be senior.
Becoming senior is easy: Just help your boss accomplish their goals. Pay attention and develop skills that will help you do this no matter where you are and what you're working on. If you over-specialize in a specific organization or person's need, you become the expert beginner and you can't leave or you will struggle.
Some of the things that help a person be senior can also make them great. But the path to being great is a very different and personal one (at least that's the impression I got from Coders At Work. I make no claims for myself.) Jeff Dean is undoubtedly a great programmer and was also the most senior developer at Google for a long time. They made new levels just for him. So they can overlap. If someone is lucky and their job is great, the things that make them senior can also make them great. If their job sucks and management is terrible, they'll have to choose every day between doing something great or doing something to get promoted (being senior.)
My favorite article on the journey of a software engineer is this one: https://medium.com/@webseanhickey/the-evolution-of-a-softwar... . To me it's the story of someone who started off trying to be senior but then started to become great.
In the reply to another comment, I also mentioned Coders at Work. I found that it provided some great insight into the early days of some fascinating companies from a technical perspective.
A Pattern Language, Alexander and Ishikawa and Silverstein http://amzn.to/2s9aSSc
Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment , Stevens http://amzn.to/2qPOMjN
Algorithmics: the Spirit of Computing, Harel http://amzn.to/2rW5FNS
Applied Crytography, Wiley http://amzn.to/2rsULxS
Clean Code, Martin http://amzn.to/2sIOWtQ
Clean Coder, Martin http://amzn.to/2rWgbEP
Code Complete, McConnel http://amzn.to/2qSUIwE
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, Petzold http://amzn.to/2rWfR9d
Coders at Work, Seibel http://amzn.to/2qPCasZ
Compilers: Principles, Techniques, & Tools, Aho http://amzn.to/2rCSUVA
Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, O'Hallaron and Bryant http://amzn.to/2qPY5jH
Data Flow Analysis: Theory and Practice, Khedker http://amzn.to/2qTnSvr
Dependency Injection in .NET, Seemann http://amzn.to/2rCz0tV
Domain Driven Design, Evans http://amzn.to/2sIGM4N
Fundamentals of Wireless Communication, Tse and Viswanath http://amzn.to/2rCTmTM
Genetic Programming: An Intrduction, Banzhaf http://amzn.to/2s9sdut
Head First Design Patterns, O'Reilly http://amzn.to/2rCISUB
Implementing Domain-Driven Design, Vernon http://amzn.to/2qQ2G5u
Intrduction to Algorithms, CLRS http://amzn.to/2qXmSBU
Introduction to General Systems Thinking, Weinberg http://amzn.to/2qTuGJw
Joy of Clojure, Fogus and Houser http://amzn.to/2qPL4qr
Let over Lambda, Hoyte http://amzn.to/2rWljcp
Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, Tanenbaum http://amzn.to/2rKudsw
Parsing Techniques, Grune and Jacobs http://amzn.to/2rKNXfn
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, DeMarco and Lister http://amzn.to/2qTu86F
Programming Pearls, Bentley http://amzn.to/2sIRPe9
Software Process Design: Out of the Tar Pit, McGraw-Hill http://amzn.to/2rVX0v0
Software Runaways, Glass http://amzn.to/2qT2mHn
Sorting and Searching, Knuth http://amzn.to/2qQ4NWQ
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Abelson and Sussman http://amzn.to/2qTflsk
The Art of Unit Testing, Manning http://amzn.to/2rsERDu
The Art of Unix Programming, ESR http://amzn.to/2sIAXUZ
The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist, Brooks http://amzn.to/2rsPjev
The Effective Engineer, Lau http://amzn.to/2s9fY0X
The Elements of Style, Strunk and White http://amzn.to/2svB3Qz
The Healthy Programmer, Kutner http://amzn.to/2qQ2MtQ
The Linux Programming Interface, Kerrisk http://amzn.to/2rsF8Xi
The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks http://amzn.to/2rt0dAR
The Practice of Programming, Kernighan and Pike http://amzn.to/2qTje0C
The Pragmatic Programmer, Hunt and Thomas http://amzn.to/2s9dlvS
The Psychology of Computer Programming, Weinberg http://amzn.to/2rsPypy
Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques, Gray and Reuter http://amzn.to/
Types and Programming Languages, Pierce http://amzn.to/2qT2d6G
Understanding MySQL Internals, Pachev http://amzn.to/2svXuFo
Working Effectively with Legacy Code, Feathers http://amzn.to/2sIr09R
Zen of graphics programming, Abrash http://amzn.to/2rKIW6Q
Coders At Work (https://www.amazon.com/Coders-Work-Reflections-Craft-Program...)
Founders At Work (https://www.amazon.com/Founders-Work-Stories-Startups-Early/...)
Architecture of Open Source Systems (https://www.amazon.com/Architecture-Open-Source-Applications...)
Architecture of Open Source Systems - Vol 2 (https://www.amazon.com/Architecture-Open-Source-Applications...)
Interestingly, the article you quoted mentions functional programming and immutable data as the step to go from 200K to 2M lines. Go is fundamentally incapable of functional programming* and its builtins allow pervasive mutable state.
* Its impossible to support FP without generics. Even the most basic higher order functions require type variables.
(Excerpted from: Peter Seibel. Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming (Kindle Location 6269). Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Coders-Work-Reflections-Craft-Programm... )
Seibel: When do you think was the last time that you programmed?
Allen: Oh, it was quite a while ago. I kind of stopped when C came out. That was a big blow. We were making so much good progress on optimizations and transformations. We were getting rid of just one nice problem after another. When C came out, at one of the SIGPLAN compiler conferences, there was a debate between Steve Johnson from Bell Labs, who was supporting C, and one of our people, Bill Harrison, who was working on a project that I had at that time supporting automatic optimization...The nubbin of the debate was Steve's defense of not having to build optimizers anymore because the programmer would take care of it. That it was really a programmer's issue....
Seibel: Do you think C is a reasonable language if they had restricted its use to operating-system kernels?
Allen: Oh, yeah. That would have been fine. And, in fact, you need to have something like that, something where experts can really fine-tune without big bottlenecks because those are key problems to solve. By 1960, we had a long list of amazing languages: Lisp, APL, Fortran, COBOL, Algol 60. These are higher-level than C. We have seriously regressed, since C developed. C has destroyed our ability to advance the state of the art in automatic optimization, automatic parallelization, automatic mapping of a high-level language to the machine. This is one of the reasons compilers are ... basically not taught much anymore in the colleges and universities.
Now onto your claims about open source developers from Brazil, Russia, India, Poland, and China. I'm going to ignore the fact you only backed it up with your imagination, and focus on the interesting part, your assumption. You assumed that all these fellow programmers didn't have access to books, older programmers, nor even computers, in the seventies. Despite of the fact that programmers from these countries have been consistently shipping great software for decades. What really staggers me is that you assume on behalf of all these people that they lack culture, just to prove your point.
Do humanity a favor, and go read a book . Or at least try to leave home so you can talk to people, and finally work on your poor social skills.
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days
Excellent book covering interviews with founders of companies that became really big. I thought this book was really insightful and inspirational.
- Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
I just started this book, but already like it - the format is the same as the Founders at Work book but on the developer side of things.
- World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It
It was a good book, but not as inspirational as the Founders at Work book. Some of the stories are good, but since the majority of the people are not in my sector, the book just wasn't as interesting to me.
- Ready Player One
An excellent story that really made me nostalgic to my younger years - definitely recommend this one.
- The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel
I have a weak spot for Charlie Huston books - he's not the best author (sorry Charlie), but his books are really easy to approach. This is one of his best ones and is about crime scene cleaners - a nice departure from all the Joe Pitt vampire novels.
- World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
It's OK... I read it half way through and then once I got busy I just couldn't get myself to pick it up again. I will finish it eventually.. just not yet.
A friend recommended this book to me - I could not get past the first chapter.
Which quotes a little chunk from the book Coders at Work (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Coders-Work-Reflections-Craft-Progra...)
(Anyway I can trim that amazon URL into something nicer without using url-shorteners?)
Coders at work
I'm more of a fiction kind of guy so I'll have to recommend this:
(The kindle edition is more than the paperback but if you do want to travel light the kindle edition will definitely be worth the extra bucks as it is one of those thick thousand page mass market paperbacks)
It takes way to long to learn (probably 2 years for a developer working with it 8 hours a day), and the grown ups don't like it either: http://www.amazon.com/Coders-Work-Reflections-Craft-Programm...
This isn't even an ugly chick.
Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine might be good for your friend.
Another good option might be Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold.
Or, how about Coders at Work?
Another one that I have (but haven't had time to read yet) is Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg. It might have something that your friend would find interesting.
Another one that may be inspirational, although it's more about personalities than computer science per-se, would be Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.
Garbage Collection by Jones Lins: Pretty much the only book in the field (except for the forthcoming Advanced Garbage Collection sequel in the middle of this year), covers the territory as of the mid-90s. Much more fun than trying to track down 100 individual papers and trying to make sense of it all. Exposition is clear and you get a real feeling for the subtleties of the field (especially when you try fun things like generational and/or concurrent GC). http://www.amazon.com/Garbage-Collection-Algorithms-Automati...
Fresh book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.