Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — We've been looking for someone who was involved in actually writing section 401(k) of the U.S. tax code more than 35 years ago, read the e-mail to Richard Stanger. "Yes, that's me," he wrote back.

Stanger was a primary author of a little-noticed piece of a 1978 tax law. At the time, the 869-word insert was lost in the political heat of limits on tax-deductible three-martini lunches, lower capital gains rates and a bipartisan coalition that was rejecting President Jimmy Carter's proposals. Today, 401(k) is likely the most recognizable number in the Internal Revenue Code.

As the first 401(k) generation ages — about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day in the U.S. — questions multiply about the adequacy of their finances. Just last week, President Barack Obama proposed a new retirement plan for Americans who don't have 401(k) plans at work as he warned that Social Security often isn't enough to rely on.

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