Computer Programming: History, Coders and Quotes
Read our guide below for a brief history of computer programming. The very first computer programming languages were written in Germany in the 1950s for a computer that had been designed in the 1940s. Despite being developed early on, computer programming did not flourish until the tech boom in Silicon Valley between the years 1998 and 2000.
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Computer programming has played an increasing role in our society and it is worth exploring the history as well as current-day uses. The very first programming languages for computers were written in Germany in the 1950s and were intended to be used with a computer that had been designed in the 1940s. However, the mathematics and understanding required to create computer programming goes back further than that and can be found in an Italian translation of a memoir from the 1800s.
- University of Florida: The language of computer science
- University of Rhode Island: Computer programming
- Southern New Hampshire University: The life of a programmer: What do programmers do, anyway?
Timeline of Major Milestones
- Between the years 1842 and 1943, the memoirs of the mathematician, Luigi Menabrea, were translated. Within them we would discover a method of calculating Benoulli numbers with Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Many historians consider this to be the first computer program.
- Between 1943 and 1945, the high-level programming language, Plankalkül, was developed in Germany to be used on the Z1 machine which had been created by Konrad Zuse. Despite being developed early on, it was not actually utilized until between the years 1998 and 2000.
- In 1949, Short Code, created by John Mauchly, became a first high-level language for the use in electronic computers. Because it had to be translated into machine code to run on the computers, processes were slowed down, and the language would be replaced with something more efficient later on.
- In 1952, Autocode was developed by Alick Glennie in England for the Mark 1 computer at the University of Manchester.
- In 1954, R. A. Booker created the second iteration of Alick Glennie’s work for that same computer. It was named the Mark 1 Autocode.
- Also, in 1954, FORTRAN was invented by John Backus and his team at IBM. It became the first widely used general purpose high-level programming language to be implemented. It is still used in high-performance computing today.
- Between 1955 and 1959, FLOW-MATIC was developed by Grace Hopper for the UNIVAC I at Remington Rand in the United States as an easier to use option for business data processing customers.
- In 1958, John McCarthy created LISP. It is the second-oldest high-level programming languagethat has seen widespread use.
- In 1959, the Short Range Committee created. COBOL. It was designed for business use.
- In 1961, another version of Autocode, the EDSAC2, was created in the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory by D.F. Hartley.
- Government of Maine: A brief history of computing
- NASA: Computers in spaceflight: The NASA experience
- Penn State: Programming languages: A short history for economists
- Iowa State University: Overview of programming languages
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Computer Programming Today
Today, there are a variety of programming languages and options for every purpose. Some offer complexity, while others offer speed, and many have developed to offer both as well as a variety of other functionality.
Some of the most popular programming languages of today include:
- Java – a popular programming language that is used for Android apps, video games, server-side applications, and more.
- Python – an easy to learn programming language with incredible popularity and frameworks developed for nearly every type of use.
- C – one of the first programming languages taught in schools, you will find it in many places.
- Ruby – a powerful as well as easy to use option that is often used in web apps.
- C# – is used in the development of Microsoft apps and is very similar to Java.
- PHP – is powerful and is often used in data-heavy websites as well as app development.
- Objective-C – along with Swift, is a programming language of iOS apps.
- SQL – is a database query language used for big data.
- The White House: Get with the programming
- Stanford University: The modern history of computing
- California State University Northridge: Programming languages
- Veterans Affairs: Programming languages
Famous Computer Programmers
Along with the programming languages come the amazing minds that came up with those languages. Here are some of history’s favorites:
- Tim Berners-Lee – from the Emanuel School, he brought us HTML and the world wide web.
- James Gosling – from Carnegie Mellon University, he created Java.
- Bjarne Stroustrup – from the University of Cambridge, he brought us C++.
- Guido van Rossum – from the University of Amsterdam, he created Python.
- Dennis Ritche – he created the C programming language at Harvard University.
- Donald Knuch -from the California Institute of Technology, he is known as the father of the analysis of algorithms.
- Linus Torvalds – from the University of Helsinki, he created the popular Linus kernel
- Ken Thompson – from Berkeley, he was a UNIX co-creator.
- Brian Kernighan – from the University of Toronto, he was a UNIX co-creator
- Larry Wall – from Berkeley, he created Perl.
- Phil Katz – from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he created the ZIP archive format.
- Micheal Widenius – from Helsinki University of Technology, he created MySQL.
- Carnegie Mellon University: Pioneering women in computer technology
- National Public Radio: The forgotten female programmers who created modern tech
- The Computer History Museum: Computer pioneers: Photos from the field
Computer Programming Quotes
Computer programmers have been some of the most amazing minds of our times and deserve recognition for their contributions to our modern society.
“I think that great programming is not all that dissimilar to great art. Once you start thinking in concepts of programming it makes you a better person…as does learning a foreign language, as does learning math, as does learning how to read.“
- Jack Dorsey
“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.“
- Bill Gates