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Evolution of Programming Languages

  • Plankalkul

    Designed by Konrad Zuse beginning in 1943, but not being created until 1998, Plankalkul would have been the first high-level programming language created had it been implemented sooner. It was designed to aid in the field of engineering. Its name, originally German, is translated to mean "Plan Calculus."
    (Aside: the date "January 1st" was ascribed to all events to indicate the uncertainty of the exact time when an event occurred [I was not able to simply leave the fields blank].)
  • Fortran

    FORTRAN (conventionally spelled "Fortran") was created in 1957 by a team of researchers under John Backus at IBM, and is recognized as the first high-level programming language (that was successfully created and implemented). Its primary purpose was to serve as a method of executing intensive number calculations and computations. The name FORTRAN was arrived at by selectively shortening the original name, The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System.

    MATH-MATIC was a compiler developed by Grace Hopper in 1957. It was designed for the early computer UNIVAC, and improved upon Hopper's previous compilers. MATH-MATIC is not an acronym and does not seem to have a significant meaning, but was merely the marketing name of what was otherwise referred to as the AT-3 compiler.
  • Period: to

    Third-Generation Programming Languages

  • Lisp

    Lisp, released in 1958 and developed by John McCarthy at MIT, is the second oldest high-level programming language. Originally developed as a means of mathematical notation, Lisp later was popular in researching artificial intelligence, and has been expanded and redone multiple times over the years. Lisp stands for List Processor.

    COBOL was developed in 1959 by a team of researchers at a Conference on Data System Languages. Its primary purpose was to help automate business and finance operations, and to thus aid those in the fields of business and finance. COBOL is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language.
  • RPG

    RPG was developed by IBM and released in 1959. RPG replicated earlier punched-card technology, but has since evolved and is now commonly used in the field of business applications. RPG stands for Report Program Generator.

    BASIC first appeared in 1964, developed by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College. Its focus was on being a user-friendly and easy-to-use language in order to empower more people to own and operate their own computer. BASIC is an acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
  • Logo

    A dialect of Lisp, Logo was designed by Bolt, Beranek and Newman (a research firm in Massachusetts) and released in 1967. Its primary purpose was to educate beginner or prospective programmers, which it accomplished through "turtle graphics," a graphic-oriented visualization of sorts of input script. Though not an acronym, the name Logo was derived from the Greek word logos meaning, literally, word.
  • B

    The B programming language was developed in 1969 at Bell Labs, but has since been superceded by C. Its main purpose was to serve as a small-size language easily operable by the minicomputers of the time. It isn't clear from where B got its name, but it may have been derived from the language it was based upon, BCPL.
  • Pascal

    Pascal was created by Niklaus Wirth and first released in 1970. It was created with the intent of being an efficient and fairly small language that emphasized structured programming, and was initially used in educating college students. Pascal is not an acronym, but rather a reference to the mathematician Blaise Pascal.
  • C

    First emerging in 1972, C was developed by Dennis Ritchie at AT&T Bell Labs, and has become one of the world's most widely-used computer languages. It was created with the intent of being versatile and accessible. Its name was chosen based on its antecedent, the earlier programming language of B, and was intended to indicate progression from it.
  • ML

    ML was developed by Robin Milner et al. in 1973 at the University of Edinburgh. Its original purpose was to develop methods of proving theories in Milner's LCF theorem prover. Its name is short for Meta-Language.
  • SQL

    SQL was developed by IBM's Donald Chamberlin and Raymond Boyce in 1974. SQL was and is primarily used in the managing of databases, and is commonly used today. Its name is an acronym for Structured Query Language.
  • Ada

    Ada was developed in February of 1980 by a team headed by Dr. Jean Ichbiah (and later was revised by Mr. Tucker Taft). Its primary purpose was to provide a reliable and efficient way to run programs and execute tasks. Its named is derived from Ada Lovelace, a pioneer of computer programming often accredited with developing the first computer language (and incidentally, the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron).
  • C++

    C++ first appeared in 1983, and was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs. Its purpose was to be a fast and efficient language that would easily lend itself to the needs of programmers. C++ was originally called "C with Classes," but had its name changed as a sort of pun -- the "++" is meant to represent its evolution from the C language, which is used to increment the value of a variable.
  • Python

    Python was designed by Guido van Rossum and released in 1991. Its focus was on serving as a concise, efficient, and readable means of coding and is used mostly in scripting. Python's name does not have a known origin or inspiration.
  • Visual Basic

    Visual Basic was created in 1991 by Microsoft and was derived from the earlier language of BASIC. The main purpose of Visual Basic was to create a language easily understandable by those new to the field of computer programming, and to overall make manipulation of code more approachable. The more recent Visual Basic includes BASIC's original name as well as the word Visual, which indicates the prevalence of GUI (graphical user interface) in Visual Basic's operation.
  • Delphi

    Delphi was developed in 1995 by Borland Software Corporation. It was an extension of the language Pascal and meant for use in object-oriented programming (Object Pascal), and like many older languages, has continued to be improved over the years. Delphi is not an acronym, but likely an allusion to the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greek mythology.
  • Java

    Java was developed by a team headed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems, Inc., and releasted in 1995. Java was created with the intent of being a "platform-independent" language that could be used by various devices and computer models, and today is one of the most widely-used programming languages. The origin of Java's name isn't known, but may be tied to Java coffee.
  • JavaScript

    JavaScript was developed by Brendan Eich at Netscape Communications and released in 1995. It was designed to be a fairly accessible language that would appeal to nonprofessionals as well as professionals. Except for borrowing some names from the original Java's code, JavaScript is unrelated to Java.
  • PHP

    PHP was developed by Rasmus Lerdorf and made its first appearance in 1995. PHP was designed with the original purpose of easily creating web applications and improving websites, and is used widely in the present day. PHP stands for, interestingly, "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor."