davido, I found your text very interesting, but I also have to disagree somewhat with this statement: "Nowadays the barrier to entry in programming is higher, I think, than it used to be."
I started to develop some programs in BASIC in the early 1980s, first on a TRS-80 computer, then on another micro-computer running CP/M (but I don't remember what the hardware model was) and then on an IBM PC running MS-DOS. For about 8 years I only used interpreted BASIC (plus a little bit of assembly). Then, around 1987-88, I decided that I wanted to be more serious about programming, started to learn some "more serious" languages (such as Pascal and C at the time) and even finally decided in 1989 to resume some college/university studies in CS. It was quite difficult at the time to find simply a Pascal or C compiler to run on a PC, and/or it was quite expensive. A couple of years later, I had to buy an ADA compiler and also a Borland C++ compiler, again something quite expensive when for personal use (even though I used them quite a bit, I don't think I ever got a positive return on these investments). Just a few years later, starting in about 1993, with a Linux box and the Internet, you could easily get free (in this case, I really mean free as in a free beer, not free speech) compilers and development environments for hundreds of different languages. So, from that standpoint, I think it is much easier today that it was at the time when I started.
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