Evolution of Programming Languages

by J Rajan Chakravarty on June 15, 2013

What is Programming and what is a Programming Language?

Programming simply means to write a set of statements that act as instructions to a machine. Machines don’t understand natural human language, because their IQ is ‘0’. So, to make them understand what we want from them, many languages are developed, they are called programming languages.


Programming  first began when Charles Babbage (Father of Computers) designed the Analytical engine. This engine was an advanced form of Babbage’s Difference Engine, however, Charles considered it as a Mechanical device. Ada Lovelace designed the first algorithm to implement on Babbage’s analytical engine. She described it as a software for Babbage’s hardware. The analytical engine has a Mechanical ALU, where control flow with the help of loops and branches and an integrated memory. Hence, it’s the first general purpose computer. The algorithms designed by Ada were converted in to punched cards and inserted into the Engine. Output was taken by printer, curve plotter and bells. So, the First programming was done with the Punched cards and the First programmer was Ada Lovelace, who is known as Mother of Computers.


 (Ada Lovelace)


Before 1950s, there were no much advanced computers, mostly programming was done using punched cards. Plankalkül was the first High Level programming language. It’s first concept was designed during 1943-1945, originally published in 1948. Other languages like ENIAC codes, ARC, Curry notation, C-10, Brief Code and SCS are assembly languages.

BETWEEN 1950 AND 1960

Short Code was among the first High level languages, it was inspired by ENIAC system and is a modified form of Brief code. It was as simple as human language but requires manual conversion to insert on machine.


Other languages such as Superplan, ALGAE, IPL etc. were developed but not used much.

In 1952, Autocode was developed. After this, the name “programming language” evolved, before this, programming was called coding system. First complier for Autocode was developed for MARK-1 machine at University of Manchester. The next one is also developed for MARK-1 system and was different from its previous version. The Autocode was different for different machines like different versions of FORTRAN.

Another language was developed in 1953 called Speedcode. It was the first High-Level language for the IBM computers. It was first developed for IBM 701 system and it supported computation of floating point numbers. It’s an object oriented, generic language and is an interpreter.

Some other mathematical languages developed such as MATH-MATIC, ARITH-MATIC, MATRIX-MATH etc., but FORTRAN  became the most popular. The first concept of FORTRAN was designed in 1954 and was first implemented in 1957. FORTRAN was first implemented using punched cards and now implemented on compilers.


The FORTRAN name was derived from IBM’s Formula Translating System (FORmulaTRANslating). FORTRAN is an object oriented, multi paradigm, structure imperative, generic programming language which was used and still being used in many Super Computers. Its versions include FORTRAN, FORTRAN-II, FORTRAN-66, FORTRAN-77, IBM 1401 FORTRAN, FORTRAN IV, FORTRAN 90, FORTRAN 95, FORTRAN 2003, FORTRAN 2008 etc.

UNICODE was developed in between 1957-58, it was inspired by MATH-MATIC language. Soon, ALGOL was developed in 1958.ALGOL is made up of two words ALGOrithmic Language. It’s a procedural, imperative, structured language, it has many versions including NELIAC, JOVIAL, BALGOL, SUBALGOL, ALGO etc. Originally called IAL, its first version was ALGOL 58. Many later programming languages were evolved from this.

The first concept of Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) was developed by CODASYL committee in 1959.

BETWEEN 1960 AND 1970

The Stable version of COBOL was released in 1960 called COBOL-60. It’s a procedural, object-oriented language. Its latest Stable release is COBOL 2002. Nowadays, Mainframe COBOL is used generally, however for learning purpose, COBOL is taught. You can also easily learn COBOL at these links :

1. Mainframegurukul.com’s cobol tutorial.

2. csis.ul.ie/cobol

3. Youtube videos

SNOBOL is another language which was launched in 1963, its name means “StriNg Oriented and symBOlic Language”. It is an object oriented functional language. During 1960s and 1970s, SNOBOL was widely taught in US Universities. It was mainly a text manipulating language (string manipulation), it was a single data type language (string), it has no functions and no declarations were required.

Soon, in 1964, BASIC language was developed. BASIC stands for “Beginner’s All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”. It was originally designed for Non-Science students so that that could develop an interest in Computer. The original BASIC was unstructured and also not object oriented language. Later it has become object oriented. Microsoft widely uses this and modified it a lot in Visual Basic, Visual Studio and in .Net framework.

BCPL was a language which was developed to develop compliers for other languages, it is no longer used as its place was taken by others languages.

Older versions of languages developed and formed newer and better versions. A similar language to COBOL was developed called DIBOL, it was Digital Business Oriented Language. It was general purpose, procedural language which was generally used for MIS software development.

BETWEEN 1970 AND 1980

In 1972, the game changer was born, The ‘C’ Language, developed by Dennis Richie at AT&T Bell Laboratories. C Language was developed using ALGOL and BCPL, it is imperative and structured. C is considered as the greatest language ever as it has influenced many modern programming languages. C was implemented in almost all general purpose computers and it has lots of compilers i.e. : TURBO-C compiler, Borland C Compiler etc. It has so many modified versions which has Object oriented features also but still the Original C language is still in use. If you don’t know any programming language, then you can start with C, here are some tutorial links:-

1. Tutorialspoint’s C programming tutorials

2. cprogramming.com/tutorial/c-tutorial.html

Pascal was a language developed in memory of Blaise Pascal. It was not an object oriented language, later object Pascal was developed.

PROLOG is a General purpose language, which is also one of the first Logic programming language. First appeared in 1972, it was much useful in creating GUIs, and also best for Video Games at that time. It creates logic with the help of relations, it was also greatly useful in control systems and automated machines.

In 1972, another revolutionary special purpose programming language was developed by IBM. It was SQL (Structured Query Language). It was developed for data handling. RDBMS (relational Data Base Management System) uses SQL. SQL consists of DDL and DML (Data Definition and Data manipulation), it has become a standard at ANSI. It is also called SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language). The name SQL was given because SEQUEL was already a Trademark of a US based Aircraft Company. Later in 1970s, ORACLE Company (Rational Softwares Inc. at that time) made their own SQL based RDBMS. You can learn SQL at :

1.  sqlzoo.net/

2. Tutorialspoint’t sql tutorial

3. beginner-sql-tutorial.com

In 1977, US dept. of Defence released 4 Languages “GREEN”, “RED”, “BLUE”, “YELLOW”. RED was originally launched in 2011, and development of BLUE was stopped in 1999.

MATLAB was developed somewhat around 1978. MATLAB stands for MATrix LABoratory. It’s actually a computing environment and programming language which is developed by MathWorks (originally at University of New Mexico). It is used to Matrix manipulation, function plotting, algorithm implementation and also to implement other languages in it. The latest versions of MATLAB are used mostly in scientific fields, research institutions and industrial enterprise. Another similar tool called SCILAB (Science Laboratory) was developed my MathWorks later. 


BETWEEN 1980 AND 1990

In 1980, Ada Programming language was developed in the memory of the Mother of Computer Ada Lovelace. Ada was originally developed for US Defence Department. This object oriented language was mainly designed for embedded and real time systems. Ada was built for Fast deployment.

In 1980, another powerful language was launched. It’s just the C Language with Class. Yes, it’s C++, It was originally named C with Class. C++ is a procedural, functional, generic, object-oriented language. With so many modifications, C++ is implemented in many SDKs (Software Development Kit) and compilers. The original release of C++ was in 1983.

You can learn C++ at :

1. Cplusplus.com/doc/tutorial/

2. Tutorialspoint’s C++ tutorial

Just an year before, Objective was released, It was Object oriented C Language. Objective-C is the main language behind the Apple and Mac systems. It is still used by Apple in XCode SDK, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch.

You can learn Objective-C at :

1. cocoadevcentral.com/d/learn objectivec/

2. developer.apple.com’s objective c tutorial

Lots of other programming were launched during this period like Redcode, PARADOX, ABAP, Clipper, Eiffel, Miranda, HyperTalk, Octave, A+, TCL etc. Another popular and useful language was Perl.

Perl stands for Practical Extraction and Reporting Language, however it is not an actual acronym. Perl is a High level, general purpose, interpreted programming language, first appeared in 1987, used extensively to process text through CGI programs. The Power of Perl in processing piles of text has made it highly popular and widely used to write Web server programs for various tasks. It’s website is http://www.perl.org/ and you can learn it at :

1. Perl-tutorial.org/.


BETWEEN 1990 AND 2000

This decade was a revolutionary period, many modern languages developed in this time such as Python, VB, Apple Script, Java, PHP, Ruby and many other modified versions of previous programming languages.


Python is an interpreter, dynamically object-oriented, open-source programming language that utilizes automatic memory management. Originally developed for Amoeba OS. It is designed in such a way that a program can express more in less code. For this reason, python is extensively used by Google.

Learn Python at :

1. docs.python.org/2/tutorial/

2. www.learnpython.org/

Visual Basic is an event driven language implemented on Microsoft’s .Net framework. It’s not greatly used, but is taught for learning purpose. Later Object orientation was added and it became Visual Basic.Net. It’s a highly dominating language and powerful enough to develop almost all types applications for windows platforms and others that has .Net framework. It is an easy to use language, if you don’t know any programming language, you can start here.


Learn Visual Basic.Net at:

1. Tutorialspoint’s vb.net tutorial 

AppleScript was developed by Apple Inc. for apple computers and is provided inbuilt with Mac since Mac System 7. First appeared in 1993, AppleScript was a scripting language. Like Microsoft’s Windows OS has .Net platform, in similar way, Apple computers have Cocoa platform, that uses AppleScript. It is an end user scripting language, easy to learn, easy to implement.

Learn AppleScript at :

1. macosxautomation.com/applescript/firsttutorial/


Java is an all-purpose object oriented programming language. Java can be seen everywhere. In Computers, Mobiles, DVD players, TV sets, Gaming consoles, ATMs, gadgets etc. It’s platform independence is much because it uses “WORA” technique (Write Once, Run Anywhere). It means, the code don’t need to be recompiled to run the same code in another platform or device. Java was originally developed by James gosling in 1995 at Sun Microsystems (Now it is merged with ORACLE).


Learn Java at :

1. docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/

2. docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/java/

Originally known as Personal Home Page, PHP stands for Hypertext Processor, which is a recursive acronym. PHP is an Open-source, cross-platform, interpretive, server-side scripting language. It can be embedded easily into HTML pages, that’s why it is used widely. With the help of PHP, scripting is very fast with caching.


Learn PHP at :

1. php.net/manual/en/tutorial.php

2. w3schools.com’s php tutorial

3. Tutorialspoint’s php tutoral

Ruby is an object-oriented, open-source programming language. Ruby on Rails is an open-source Web application framework which is written in Ruby and it closely follows the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture. It is simple and productive. As a bonus, many find it easy to learn.


Learn Ruby at :

1. ruby-lang.org/en/documentation/quickstart/

2. Tutorialspoint’s Ruby Tutorial

JavaScript and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) was developed in 1995. Never confuse between Java and JavaScript. JavaScript is an object-oriented, scripting programming language that runs in the Web browser on the client side. It is smaller and have simplified set of commands. JavaScript is easier to code and don’t need to be compiled. Technically it not exactly a programming language, even though AJAX uses XHTML or HTML, JavaScript and XML to Develop interactive Web apps. Since Google Maps put AJAX on the map, the requests for AJAX-knowledgeable pros went above the sky. Embedded into HTML, it is being used in millions of Web pages to validate forms, detecting browsers, creating cookies and design improvement. It’s simple and easy to learn.


Learn JavaScript at:

1. w3schools’ js tutorial

2. Tutorialspoint’s javascript tutorial


BETWEEN 2000 AND 2010

A variety of programming languages were developed during 2000s. This decade began with the c# (C Sharp) programming language. It is a general purpose, object oriented language. C# was evolved out of ‘C’ and ‘C++’ and developed by Microsoft as a part of ‘.Net’ initiative. People consider it ‘Java’ with a different name plate. If you are a user of Microsoft product, C# is a must language for you.


You can learn C# at :

1. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa288436(v=vs.71).aspx

2. csharp-station.com/tutorial.aspx

In 2001, Visual Basic .Net was released. F# is a programming language developed by F# software foundation, Microsoft and few others. It’s a research project. This language can be implemented in Microsoft’s Visual Studio perfectly. Cobra is a Programming language evolved out of Python, C# and Objective-C. It is also implemented in Visual Studio.


In 2006, Microsoft launched Windows PowerShell. It is a Command line shell and its associated language is built on Microsoft’s .Net Framework. PowerShell can be used to compile other language programs also, it is evolved out of Perl, C#, SQL and others. Its stable version was launched in November 2006 but is still in further development.


In 2009, Go Programming language was developed by Google. It is an open source concurrent, system programming language. Also known as Golang, the Go language targeted all major operating systems. It’s latest stable release was released on 13th May 2013. Go is an easy to learn language, it is mostly similar to C language.



After 2010, Fancy, Rust, Kotlin, Dart and Ceylon programming languages were developed. Most of them are developed in Java and are mostly similar to java. They are directly implemented on SDKs developed along with them.

Fancy is an object oriented language and is developed for UNIX like systems i.e. : Linux and Mac. Rust is for Windows, Mac, Linux and open BSD. Dart is also object oriented language developed by Google. Ceylon is created by Red Hat and is not yet released. It will be launched with its SDK. TypeScript first appeared in 2012, it is developed by Microsoft on with JavaScript.

Learning Programming is an easy task if you think so.

16      17    18


Here are some links where you will find Tutorials to learn different Programming Languages :

1. Tutorialspoint.com/

2. W3schools.com/

3. Zetcode.com/

Inspiring and Interesting Quotes :

 Java is to JavaScript what Car is to Carpet.

- Chris Heilmann

It’s hard enough to find an error in your code when you’re looking for it; it’s even harder when you’ve assumed your code is error-free.

- Steve McConnell


Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.

- Edward V Berard

First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.

- John Johnson

Computers are good at following instructions, but not at reading your mind.

 – Donald Knuth


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