Computer History: A Timeline of Computer Programming Languages | HP® Tech Takes (2023)

In today's world, computer programming is required to keep the systems and devices we use every day operating smoothly. Programming languages enable humans to interact with machines and make them perform necessary operations. Humans and machines process information differently, and programming languages are the key to bridging the gap between people and computers.

1883: The first programming language was developed in 1883 when Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage worked together on the Analytical Engine, which was a primitive mechanical computer. Lovelace was able to discern the importance of numbers, realizing that they could represent more than just numerical values of things. Lovelace wrote an algorithm for the Analytical Engine, the first computer program, to compute Bernoulli numbers.

1949: Assembly language was first used as a type of computer programming language that was able to simplify machine code language, which is necessary for telling a computer what to do.

1952: Alick Glennie developed Autocode, which some consider to be the first compiled computer programming language. This means it could be translated directly into machine code.

1957: John Backus created FORTRAN, which is a computer programming language for working with scientific, mathematical, and statistical projects.

1958: Algol was created as an algorithmic language. It was also a precursor to programming languages such as Java and C.

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1959: COBOL was created by Dr. Grace Murray Hopper to be a language that could operate on all types of computers.

1959: John McCarthy created LISP, which is still used today. This programming language was designed for use in artificial intelligence research, and today, it can be used with Python and Ruby.

1964: John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz developed BASIC for students without a strong background in technology and math, enabling them to still use computers.

1970: Niklaus Wirth developed Pascal, naming it after Blaise Pascal. This language is easy to learn and was the main language used by Apple for early software development.

1972: Alan Kay, Adele Goldberg, and Dan Ingalls developed Smalltalk, which enabled computer programmers to change code quickly.

1972: Dennis Ritchie developed C, generally regarded as the first high-level programming language. This means that it's closer to human language and less like machine code.

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1972: Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce developed SQL for IBM. This language was used for viewing and changing data stored in databases.

1978: Cleve Moler developed MATLAB for writing math programs. This language is used for research and education.

1983: Brad Cox and Tom Love created Objective-C as the main language used for writing Apple software.

1983: Bjarne Stroustrup created C++, which is an extension of the C programming language. This is one of the most used languages in the world.

1987: Larry Wall developed Perl as a scripting language, used for text editing to simplify report processing.

1990: Haskell was developed as a functional computer programming language used to process complicated math calculations.

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1991: Guido Van Rossum developed Python, which is a simplified computer language that is easy to read.

1991: Microsoft developed Visual Basic, which enabled programmers to select and change specific chunks of code with a drag-and-drop process.

1993: Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman developed R for statisticians who needed to perform data analysis.

1995: Sun Microsystems developed Java, originally intended to be used with hand-held devices.

1995: Rasmus Lerdorf developed PHP, mainly for Web development. PHP continues to be widely used in Web development today.

1995: Yukihiro Matsumoto developed Ruby as an all-purpose programming language, ideal for many programming jobs. Ruby is widely used in the development of Web applications.

1995: Brendan Eich developed JavaScript to enhance Web browser interactions.

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2000: Microsoft developed C# as a combination of C++ and Visual Basic. C# is similar to Java in some ways.

2003: Martin Odersky created Scala as a programing language that combines aspects of functional programming.

2003: James Strachan and Bob McWhirter developed Groovy as an offshoot of Java.

2009: Google developed Go to solve issues that commonly occur with large software systems.

2014: Apple developed Swift to replace C, C++, and Objective-C.

Today: Computer programming languages in use today were built on the concepts designed in older languages. Many older languages are still in use today or are being used as a foundation for new languages. The newer computer programming languages often aim to simplify the work of programmers. The continual expansion of technology ensures that computer programming languages will remain an integral part of modern life for a long time to come.

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