The History of Programming Languages



From the first programming, the languages were codes. One man realized that he can encode information on punch cards when he watched that railroad train conductors would encode the appearance of the ticket holders on the train tickets using the position of punched holes on the tickets. He is Herman Hollerith. He began to encode the 1890 census data on punch cards which he made the same size like the boxes to hold US currency. (The banknote was later downsized.)


In this decade the first definable modern, electrically powered computers were produced. The limited speed and memory space forced programmers to encode assembly language required a great deal of intellectual energy and was error-prone.\r\n\r\nKonrad Zuse published his programming language Plankalkül’s details. Whereas, it wasn’t applied in his time and his original addition were isolated from other developments, because Germany was isolated during the war.

These are a few important languages that were developed in this time period:

–          1943 – Plankalkül

–          1943 – ENIAC coding system

–          1949 – C-10

1950s and 1960s

There are first three modern programming languages which are still in use today:

–          FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator), invented by John W. Backus.

–          LISP (LISt Processor), invented by John McCarthy.

–          COBOL (the Common Business Oriented Language), invented by Short Range Committee, extremely influenced by grace Hopper.

  • 1951-  Regional Assembly Language
  • 1952 – Autocode
  • 1954 – FORTRAN
  • 1958 – LISP
  • 1958 – ALGOL
  • 1959 – COBOL
  • 1962 – APL
  • 1962 – Simula
  • 1964 – BASIC
  • 1964 – PL/I

1967 – 1978: Establishing Basic Paradigms

The best period of the programming languages’ history is from late 1960s to late 1970s. Many of the programming languages now in use were developed in this period:

–          Simula developed in the late 1960s by Nygaard and Dahl as a superset of Algol 60, was the first language designed to include object-oriented programming.\r\n\r\n-          C, an early systems programming language, was invented by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson at Bell Labs between 1969 and 1973.

–          Prolog, created in 1972 by Colmerauer, Roussel, and Kowalski, was the first logic programming language

–          ML designed a polymorphic type system (invented by Robin Milner in 1978) on top of Lisp, pioneering statically typed functional programming languages.

A few important languages which were invented in this time period:

–         1970 – Pascal

–          1972 – C

–          1972 – Smalltalk

–          1972 – Prolog

–          1973 – ML

–          1978 – SQL

1980s: Induration, Modules, and the Performance

  • C++ combined object oriented and systems programming.
  • Ada is intended for use by defense contractors.
  • The functional languages moved to standardize ML and Lisp.
  • Modula, Ada, and ML all developed notable module systems in the 1980s.
  • The RISC movement sparked greater interest in compilation technology for high level languages.

A few important languages that were developed in this time period:

–          1983 – Ada

–          1983 – C++

–          1985 – Eiffel

–          1987 – Perl

–          1989 – FL(Backus)

1990s: The Internet Age

The fastest growth of the Internet is in this decade. By opening up a radically new platform for computer systems, the Internet created an opportunity for new languages to be adopted. The Java programming language rose to popularity due to its early integration with the Netscape Navigator web browser, and various scripting languages achieved widespread use in developing customized application for web servers.

–          1990 – Haskell

–          1990 – Python

–          1991 – Java

–          1993 – Ruby

–          1994 – PHP

–          2000 – C#

Here are some videos of computer”s history :

/* The BBC broadcasted in 1991 the serie ”The dream machine”. This scene is about the tragic story of Alan Turing, the “father” of the modern computer. During the Second World War he devised a number of techniques for breaking German telegraph codes. After the war Alan Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE. This series of the BBC was broadcasted in 1991. */

BBC documentary history of computers part 1

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BBC documentary history of computers part 2

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BBC documentary history of computers part 3

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BBC documentary history of computers part 4

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