You Gotta Know These Programming Languages
C++ is a popular, compiled, high-level language developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1985 at Bell Labs. C++ is similar to C, but adds object-oriented features (classes), generic programming (templates), and exception handling to the language. It is a popular language for developing business applications and, increasingly, games.
Java is a popular high-level language developed by Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s. The language was originally named OAK and unsuccessfully used for set-top devices, but hit it big after being renamed in 1995 and introduced to the World Wide Web. It is a relatively pure object-oriented language with syntax similar to C++. Instead of being compiled to object code, it is compiled to Java bytecode, which is then interpreted or compiled on the fly. This use of machine-independent bytecode gives it its “write once, run everywhere” property. Java is principally used for client-side web application (“applets”) and server-side web application (“servlets”) that make use of J2EE technology. The success of Java inspired Microsoft to introduce its C# language and .NET framework.
BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a high-level language developed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz at Dartmouth College in the mid 1960s. It is easy to use but its relative lack of structure makes maintaining programs difficult. There have been many versions of BASIC and some more modern ones (TurboBasic, QuickBasic, Visual Basic) have added advanced features. Stereotypical programs like 10 PRINT "HELLO" and 10 GOTO 10 are written in BASIC.
C, a compiled successor to the B programming language, was developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972. It is a high-level and highly standardized language that remains very “close to the hardware” and allows the programmer to perform useful, fast, and dangerous tricks. It is widely used for business applications, games, operating systems (particularly UNIX and Linux), and device drivers.
Perl is an interpreted language designed principally to process text. It was written by Larry Wall and first released in 1988. It is intended to be practical and concise rather than theoretically elegant and is sometimes lampooned as “write once, read never” because of its heavy use of symbols and idiom. It is often used for web CGI scripts and parsing log files. “Perl” is an unofficial retronym for “Practical Extraction Report Language.”
ALGOL (ALGOrithmic Language) was created in the late 1950s and was the first procedural language intended for solving mathematical and scientific problems. Formalized in a report titled ALGOL 58, it progressed through ALGOL 60 and ALGOL 68 before waning in popularity. ALGOL was sufficiently advanced and respected that most modern procedural languages reflect its overall structure and design; some, like Pascal, are very closely related.
Pascal is a high-level, compiled language built upon ALGOL. It is named after the 17th-century mathematician Blaise Pascal and was developed by Niklaus Wirth during 1967-71. Pascal is best known for its emphasis on structured programming techniques and strong typing; because of this, it was extremely popular as a teaching language in the 1980s and early 1990s, though it was never popular for business or scientific applications. The object-oriented language Delphi was based on Pascal.
LISP (LISt Processing) is the ancestor of the family of functional languages that emphasize evaluating expressions rather than executing imperative commands. It was developed in 1950-1960 by John McCarthy and is used primarily for symbolic manipulations of complicated structures rather than numerical calculation. It and its descendants (Scheme, CommonLisp, etc.) continue to be used in academic research, particularly artificial intelligence.
Fortran (FORmula TRANslation) is the oldest high-level language. Designed by John Backus for IBM during the late 1950s, it was once in use on virtually every computer in the world and is still used today for engineering and scientific applications because of the quality of its compilers and numerical libraries. The most popular Fortran versions are Fortran IV, 77, and 90. The name “Fortran” was originally entirely capitalized, but the ANSI Fortran Committee has since declared the “initial capital” spelling official.
COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) was developed in 1959 by CODASYL (Conference on Data Systems Languages) under the direction of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and is the second-oldest high-level language. It emphasized record-processing and database access and uses an English-like syntax, all attributes that led to widespread use in business, particularly the financial sector. It is characterized as especially wordy (just as C and Perl are characterized as terse). The vast majority of Year 2000 problems involved programs written in COBOL.