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Programming Languages Timeline

  • Plankalkul

    Created by Konrad Zuse between 1942 and 1945, this language’s primary use was for engineering purposes. The name comes from the German word “kalkul,” meaning “formal system.” Plankalkul was a term coined by Zuse meaning “a formal system for planning.”

    Charles Katz made this language in 1955 in order to process larger programs. The name is actually just a marketing name for AT-3, which stands for Algebraic Translator 3.
  • Fortran

    In 1957, IBM developed Fortran for scientific and engineering processes such as predicting weather. The name is a contraction of Formula Translation.
  • Lisp

    In 1958, John McCarthy and his team developed Lisp. Its primary purpose was for mathematical computation in programs, and quickly became a popular choice in AI research of the time. The name is derived from the phrase “List Processor.”

    In 1959, CODASYL designed this programming language based mostly upon FLOW-MATIC. It was created as a portable language for data processing. Its name is an acronym for common business-oriented language.
  • RPG

    First appearing in 1959, RPG by IBM is a high-level language for business applications. The name is an acronym for Report Program Generator.

    Developed in 1964 by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz. Originally designed for simplicity and accessibility, it was free to obtain. The name is an acronym for Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
  • LOGO

    Wally Feurzeig, Seymour Papert, and Cynthia Solomon developed LOGO in 1967, used for general purpose programming. The name comes from the Greek word “Logos,” meaning thought or word.
  • B

    Developed by Ken Thompson and Dennis Richie in 1969. This language was essentially a more compact version of BCPL, so that it could fit within the limited memory of minicomputers at the time. The name, as speculated by Thompson’s coworker, may be derived from Bon, another language Thompson designed.

    In 1970, Niklaus Wirth created PASCAL to encourage good programming practices. This language is notably small, but also very efficient. It is named after Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician.
  • C

    Developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972, designed to create utilities running on Unix. It is called C because it was the direct predecessor of the B programming language.
  • ML

    Made by Robert Milner in 1973, this general-purpose language is based on Lisp. The name stands for “Meta-Language.”
  • SQL

    SQL was designed in 1974 by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce. This language was created for managing specific types of data. The name is an acronym for Structured Query Language.
  • ADA

    Developed at first by a team led by Jean Ichbiah in 1980, but newer versions have been developed by Tucker Taft. This language is used to develop very large programs. The name, ADA, alludes to Ada Lovelace, the first recognized computer programmer.
  • Python

    Created in 1991 by Guido van Rossum as a high-level, general-use language, Python helps programmers write clear and concise code. While trying to think of a good title for the language, van Rossum was reading the script for a Monty Python and decided to name the program Python.
  • Visual Basic

    Visual Basic
    First appearing in 1991, Visual Basic was developed by Microsoft. The language was created to be easy to learn and use, and is based mostly upon pre-made components that Visual Basic itself provides. The language is called Visual Basic because it was largely based off of BASIC, but instead of being entirely text-based, used visual components.
  • PHP

    Designed by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP emerged as a general-purpose programming language that was very good for web development. PHP originally was an acronym for “Personal Home Page,” but was later changed to stand for “PHP: Hypertext Processor.”
  • Delphi

    Originally developed by Borland in 1995, this language’s primary function was to rapidly develop mobile, desktop, and console software. The name comes from the language’s original connection to Oracle servers, in reference to the Oracle at Delphi in Greek culture.
  • Java

    Java, designed by James Gosling in 1995, is a general, all-purpose language. It was named after Java coffee from Indonesia.
  • Javascript

    Completely unrelated to Java, this language came out towards the end of 1995. The language was originally created to allow interactive webpages. The name Javascript was an attempt to associate with Java, which was widely successful at the time. Even to this day, people confuse the two languages.
  • C++

    C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1998 as an extension of the C programming language. It has the same base function as C, but with more utility. This language is called C++ because it is an expanded version of C.