A Brief History of Programming Languages

A Brief History of Programming Languages

Oct 12, 2019
Adam Cuppy

Computer programming has long since stopped being something only “geeks” and movie hackers did and has matured into a respected profession that has its own history. And while being versed in the history of computer programming languages isn’t a prerequisite for attending a full stack programmer course in San Diego and becoming a full stack developer, it’s still something every aspiring computer programmer should know.

In this article, we’ll take a break from contemporary topics such as front-end vs back-end comparisons and how to become a coder in just a few months. We’ll go back to where it all began. And if you think the history of popular programming languages only stretches back a few decades and is therefore not much of a history at all: well, you’re in for a surprise.

What was the first programming language?

It’s generally accepted that Ada Lovelace’s “Algorithm for the Analytical Engine” is the first computer language ever created. Its purpose was to help Charles Babbage with Bernoulli number computations and Ada designed it in 1883. Lovelace describes her machine as different from previous calculating machines because of its ability to be programmed to solve problems of any complexity. Her contributions to the computer programming world are important because it showed the capabilites of computed devices almost 100 years before the thought of a modern programming computer was realized.

What was the first widely used programming language?

Assembly Language appeared in 1949 and soon saw wide use in Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculators. The Assembly was a low-level computer language that simplified the language of machine code ie. the specific instructions necessary to operate a computer.

What was the first compiled coding language?

Early computer languages came in many variants, all of which were covered under a generic term: Autocode. Autocode appeared in 1952 and, as the first compiled programming language, it could be translated directly into machine code through a program called a compiler.

What old computer languages are still in use today?

Created in 1957 by John Backus, Fortran (short for Formula Translation) is possibly the oldest programming language that’s still in use today. It’s designed to do complex statistical, mathematical, and scientific work.

Other crucial languages from this period include:

  • Algol (1958), which stands for Algorithmic Language, was designed by a committee for scientific use and provided the beginning point for the development of Java, C, C++, and Pascal.
  • COBOL (1959), ie. Common Business Oriented Language, was made by Grace Murray Hopper as a language that could run on all types and brands of computers. Today, this popular programming language is used in credit card processing, ATMs, government and hospital computers, telephone systems, traffic signals, and automotive systems.
  • LISP (1959) was first created to help with AI research. LISP is the second oldest high level programming language and can also be used to this day in situations where Python or Ruby are used.

What early languages were used at Microsoft and Apple?

BASIC, designed in 1964, was modified by Paul Allen and Bill Gates and soon became the very first product ever made by Microsoft. Apple developers, on the other hand, used Pascal (1970) during their early years due to how powerful and easy to learn it was.

In addition to that, the 1970s saw the development of numerous important languages:

  • Smalltalk (1972), which enabled a computer scientist to make changes to code on the fly, and introduced things that are now present in vital languages such as Java, Ruby, and Python.
  • C (1972) was the very first high-level language. The C programming language made it possible for Unix to be used on a broad variety of different computers. Its influence can be seen in many popular coding languages today.
  • SQL (1972) revolutionized databases and made it possible to add, view, or remove data using queries.
  • MATLAB (1978) remains one of the top coding languages for writing mathematical programs. It’s primarily used in research, mathematics, and education.
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We have had students hold part-time jobs while attending the coding bootcamps at LEARN academy. They tell us that it’s not too bad if your work is on the weekend, but working more than one night per week is really tough. It is tough but possible.


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LEARN academy’s 4 month bootcamp is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.


What do you mean by "full-time"?

LEARN academy’s full-time course is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Students spend the first 12 weeks working in the online classroom and the final 4 weeks in their remote programming internship.


What is the background of the typical LEARN Student?

There isn’t really a typical student at LEARN academy. Most have not taken computer science classes in college, although some have. Some have not gone to college at all, but many have undergraduate degrees in something other than computer science. Past graduates have been in the entertainment industry, waitresses, massage therapists, in the military, and just about anything else you can think of.

Can I call you or drop by to talk?

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Is there any required prep work?

Students who are accepted and enrolled in the 4 month bootcamp are required to attend and participate in a workshop, called Jumpstart, offered by LEARN academy prior to the first day of the program. These workshops are free for students and included in the price of the tuition for the bootcamp. LEARN academy offers multiple workshops leading up to the start of class that students can sign up for.


I don't live in San Diego, can I still apply?

Yes! LEARN academy’s live-remote courses allow students to take our courses from just about anywhere in the United States. However, we are not able to support International students at this time.


How long should my application be?

One of the things we look for in an application is – did we get to know you? It’s almost impossible for us to get to know a candidate if each of the essay answers is only two sentences long. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but before you submit, check to make sure your personality is coming out in your writing.


How old do I have to be to attend LEARN academy?

Code school students must be 18 years old by the date of the first class as we are not legally able to accommodate minors.


What does the application process look like at LEARN academy?

Once you have submitted your application, the team at LEARN academy will review it and be in touch within a week of your submission date. If we feel it is a good fit we will ask you in for an interview. It is an informal interview. A chance for us to get to know you and for you to ask any questions you might have about the coding course. We know that it is vital to your success to find the course that is best for you and your learning needs. We use the interview to find out if we are the best fit for you! If at that point we both agree that it is a good fit we will invite you to secure a seat in the class of your choice.


Can I work while attending LEARN academy?

We have had students hold part-time jobs while attending the coding bootcamps at LEARN academy. They tell us that it’s not too bad if your work is on the weekend, but working more than one night per week is really tough. It is tough but possible.


What is the class schedule?

LEARN academy’s 4 month bootcamp is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.


What do you mean by "full-time"?

LEARN academy’s full-time course is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Students spend the first 12 weeks working in the online classroom and the final 4 weeks in their remote programming internship.


What is the background of the typical LEARN Student?

There isn’t really a typical student at LEARN academy. Most have not taken computer science classes in college, although some have. Some have not gone to college at all, but many have undergraduate degrees in something other than computer science. Past graduates have been in the entertainment industry, waitresses, massage therapists, in the military, and just about anything else you can think of.

Can I work while attending LEARN academy?

We have had students hold part-time jobs while attending the coding bootcamps at LEARN academy. They tell us that it’s not too bad if your work is on the weekend, but working more than one night per week is really tough. It is tough but possible.


What is the class schedule?

LEARN academy’s 4 month bootcamp is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.


What do you mean by "full-time"?

LEARN academy’s full-time course is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Students spend the first 12 weeks working in the online classroom and the final 4 weeks in their remote programming internship.


What is the background of the typical LEARN Student?

There isn’t really a typical student at LEARN academy. Most have not taken computer science classes in college, although some have. Some have not gone to college at all, but many have undergraduate degrees in something other than computer science. Past graduates have been in the entertainment industry, waitresses, massage therapists, in the military, and just about anything else you can think of.

Can I call you or drop by to talk?

Absolutely! We love chatting with potential partners and students. It is always best to make an appointment first so we can make sure someone is available to answer your questions. You can email us hello@learnacademyorg.


Is there any required prep work?

Students who are accepted and enrolled in the 4 month bootcamp are required to attend and participate in a workshop, called Jumpstart, offered by LEARN academy prior to the first day of the program. These workshops are free for students and included in the price of the tuition for the bootcamp. LEARN academy offers multiple workshops leading up to the start of class that students can sign up for.


I don't live in San Diego, can I still apply?

Yes! LEARN academy’s live-remote courses allow students to take our courses from just about anywhere in the United States. However, we are not able to support International students at this time.


How long should my application be?

One of the things we look for in an application is – did we get to know you? It’s almost impossible for us to get to know a candidate if each of the essay answers is only two sentences long. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but before you submit, check to make sure your personality is coming out in your writing.


How old do I have to be to attend LEARN academy?

Code school students must be 18 years old by the date of the first class as we are not legally able to accommodate minors.


What does the application process look like at LEARN academy?

Once you have submitted your application, the team at LEARN academy will review it and be in touch within a week of your submission date. If we feel it is a good fit we will ask you in for an interview. It is an informal interview. A chance for us to get to know you and for you to ask any questions you might have about the coding course. We know that it is vital to your success to find the course that is best for you and your learning needs. We use the interview to find out if we are the best fit for you! If at that point we both agree that it is a good fit we will invite you to secure a seat in the class of your choice.


Still have questions?