The history of computer programming dates all the way back to the 1880s. Ada Lovelace wrote what is widely considered the first published computer program as she translated the instructions for building the Analytical Engine. Conceptualized and designed by Charles Babbage, the Analytical Engine was intended to be used to carry out complex mathematics. Though it was never actually completed, its design inspired the way computers are still built to this day. By inventing and describing a specific way the Analytical Engine could be instructed to do calculations, Lovelace also cemented herself in history as the first computer programmer.
Though punch cards like the ones that stored Lovelace’s commands for Babbage’s Analytical Engine sustained computer programming into the mid-1970s, those systems have now mostly disappeared from practical memory. And memory is the reason! As computers were developed to store more internal commands and information, programming languages became more sophisticated and complex right along with the computers.
Today, programming languages are just some of the tools that empower web developers and software developers to give different types of commands to different devices. Here’s a little about the history and modern uses of eight of today’s most-popular programming languages.
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History and Uses of C Programming Language
The C programming language is one of the oldest programming languages still in common use today. It was developed in 1972 at AT&T Bell Labs by programmer Dennis Ritchie. Because it was developed to solve many of the problems of its predecessor, B, the name C is reputed to be something of a joke.
C was initially developed to be used as part of the UNIX operating system. Today, it is the foundation of almost every operating system in common use, as well as the foundation of a majority of the other programming languages on this list. Apple OS, Windows, Linux, Adobe, Oracle, MySQL, and many Internet of Things interfaces are just some of the essential programs that are developed in C. For web developers just starting out, an understanding of C is a great foundation. Plus, there are still many jobs for C developers available in the market!
History and Uses of C++ Programming Language
C++ is an advanced version of the C language, which has also been called “new C” and “C with Classes.” Like C, the language was developed at AT&T Bell Labs. After joining the team, Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup wanted to enhance the C language with features he found useful in other software. This allows C++ to function as both a procedural and object-oriented programming language.
Today, many programs written in C also have parts written in C++. This includes many operating systems and web browsers. C++ is also a popular language for games and other apps because at a high level it is fast and can allow procedural programming changes to the function of hardware as well as the application itself. Though C++ isn’t the easiest language to learn, the opportunities it provides for development and problem solving are nearly infinite.
History and Uses of Python Programming Language
Python was conceived in the late 1980’s by Netherlands programmer Guido Van Rossum and rolled out in 1991. Developing the language was a hobby project for Van Rossum to keep him occupied over Christmas, though he soon began implementing the language at his employer Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). The name of the language was inspired by Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and today users of this code often work in references to Monty Python.
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. As a scripting language that can automate a complex series of tasks, Python is used on the back end of many web applications, games, and digital and animated special effects. Sites like YouTube and Instagram are among some of the titans that rely on this language to support both front-end and back-end functionality.
History and Uses of Java Programming Language
Java started in 1991 when James Gosling and some of his peers at Sun Microsystems were working on an interactive television project. Though the language proved too advanced for cable technology at the time, it was soon marketed as a “write once, run anywhere” language that could translate across operating systems. It was also important that the code be able to securely move between devices without exposing users to risk. All this was achieved with great success. By 2007 this secure and flexible language became completely open-source.
Today, Java is often used to write big online systems or applications, like enterprise software. Because it is so secure and can function across platforms, using Java is a way to ensure functionality will translate across devices. Since it was initially conceived to function on devices like television, it’s also foundational in a lot of Internet of Things technology. Java also powers most applications on the Android operating system.
History and Uses of PHP Programming Language
It’s believed the letters in PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page. This language started to come into form in 1994, when Rasmus Lerdorf created a set of tools for measuring traffic to his personal web page as well as other metrics. Over time, this set of tools evolved into a server-side programming language for web development. Other developers like Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski have done major PHP overhauls to support web evolutions like eCommerce. Though it can be learned alone, the language also integrates well with an understanding of HTML.
Today, one of the most important uses of PHP is to support WordPress, which in turn powers one-third of the sites on the Internet. Outside just WordPress sites, a majority of websites using a server-side programming language use PHP. Though it isn’t considered the most modern programming language, it is a good one to learn because PHP developers are so widely needed. It also integrates with a wide number of popular databases.
History and Uses of C# Programming Language
Pronounced “C sharp,” this language was criticized as a “Java clone” when it was developed by Microsoft in the early 2000’s as part of its .NET initiative. However, lead designer Andre Heljsberg’s involvement in developing many languages means C# actually draws inspiration from a wide range of predecessors. Though its similar goals to Java meant the two looked similar early on, today the two languages function very differently.
Today, C# is another top contender for the title of most popular programming language in the world. This general-purpose language can be used to create just about anything, from cloud services to games to enterprise software. However, its most common uses are developing easy-to-maintain websites on the .NET platform, Windows applications, and games that can be used on any device or console.
History and Uses of Swift Programming Language
Swift is the newest programming language on our list. Chris Lattner and a team of other programmers at Apple started development of this language in 2010, but it wasn’t released until 2014. It was created to replace Apple’s original programming language, Objective C, which hadn’t been adjusted since the 1980s. Thanks to open-source contributions and quick upgrades, in 2015 this language was named Most Loved Programming Language in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey.
Swift is now used for both Apple and Linux coding projects. To code in Swift you do need access to a Mac. For businesses that want to develop apps specific to the iOS system, Swift is an invaluable tool that allows them to release software faster and with fewer bugs. Since Swift is still open sourced, it may eventually be ported to other platforms as well.
Learn Today’s Most Useful Programming Languages at Eleven Fifty Academy
These eight programming languages represent how coding languages evolve. As a developer learns to use a language, they also see all the ways that language could be better or improved. As new operating systems and innovations like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality become common, new languages will be inspired to better command and communicate the needs of tomorrow.
All it takes to be on the forefront of these evolutions, or even create a new language yourself, is to keep learning and growing. Whether you’re an established developer looking to expand your skills, or a new coder who wants to practice programming in a structured environment, a coding bootcamp is a great environment for learning web development.
Explore what Eleven Fifty Academy has to offer by taking one of our free introductory coding courses or talk with an admissions advisor to find out more about our coding bootcamp programs and how they could benefit you and your future.