I somehow went through most of my programming career so far (more than a decade) without even knowing that sampling profilers existed. I knew about instrumenting profilers, like Python’s profile and cProfile modules (and the old hotshot), which trace every function call, but I also knew that they added a lot of overhead and produced distorted results. I don’t remember if I finally learned about sampling profilers when I went to Microsoft in 2017, or shortly before. So I wonder if widespread awareness of sampling profilers is a fairly recent thing.
Might be a Python thing? I think the most popular sampling profiler is py-spy, and it was only started in 2018 or so, and before that pyflame introduced the idea but it was started in 2016. I forget what was in use before that… possibly nothing?
But back in 2005 or 2006, when writing C++, I was taught about whatever the full-system Linux profiler was back in the day, before perf came around.