When I started 44+ years ago, the hard part of programming was getting programs to fit the memory size and processor speed of the computers of that day. We often wrote in assembly language, because it was often the only reasonable choice. Scientific code was written in FORTRAN, business code in COBOL (or maybe RPG). A little later C came along and became a viable alternative to assembly language for many things. There was much experimentation with languages in those days, so there were a lot of other languages around, but FORTRAN, COBOL, and C/assembly were the major ones in use.
One thing we did have in those days, which I recall with great fondness, were manuals. There were manuals for users of computer systems, and manuals for programmers, describing the operating system and library interfaces. There were people who specialized in writing such manuals, and some of these people were quite good at it. But at some point manual writing became a lost art, and the industry is poorer for it.
Over time, the machines reached a level of capability that exceeded the requirements for the kind of programs we were writing. It was rare to find a program (code, not data) that wouldn't fit in memory, and compiler technology had advanced to the point that we didn't need to obsess about the speed of code sequences in assembly language. So we started writing larger and more complex programs, and the main difficulty of programming was managing and testing the code. Source code control systems were developed, and eventually continuous build systems, but testing remains an important concern to this day.
As computer networking evolved, the problems of managing concurrency and asynchronicity became more severe. Many approaches have been developed to deal with these problems, such as threads and monitors, but this remains an area of difficulty, and is more important than ever with the advent of multicore processors.
By the mid-90's, we'd learned about all we could from the structured programming craze, and were well into the thrall of object-oriented programming, with many of us programming in C++. Large teams of programmers became common, and for them, source code control and continuous build systems were essential. Then the web finally arrived on the scene, and a great war between corporations for control of the web platform began.
Now we are in the age of frameworks. Everybody and his dog has a framework, and most of them are very poorly documented. I believe that it is only by virtue of forums like stackoverflow that some of them are usable at all. But many of them are aimed squarely at dealing with the problematic "web platform", and for that we should all be grateful. However, we really need to get some smart people together and design a new web platform, including a reasonable migration path from the current mess. The problem is, as we approach the 20-year anniversary of the web debacle, there is an entire generation of programmers who have never known anything else.
The nature of programming will continue to evolve, but evolution is not a particularly efficient process. If we are indeed intelligent, we should be capable of intelligent design.