Evolution of Computer Languages

Computer programming has become a part of our daily lives and almost every device we use is dependent on a certain algorithm that is developed by writing a program. Humans convey a message by speaking a specific language in the same way machines interact with each other by analyzing computer languages. It allows us to control machines, software, and other devices.   

Since the 19th century we have been developing programming languages and now we have mastered them. Many of you don’t know that the first-ever programming language was written by British Mathematician Ada Lovelace in 1843. Java and Python are some of the most used programming languages in the world. Programming languages are improving day by day thus improving people’s lives with technological advancements. So, through this infographic let’s Visualize the evolution of programming languages.

Why There Are So Many Computer Languages?

There are more computer languages in existence than anybody knows, and still more keep getting created every year.  There isn’t really any great reason to keep creating more languages, because existing languages are adequate to achieve any task we can think of.

Most people just make new languages because they can, and every once in a while somebody develops a language that’s good enough that a lot of people start using it.

evolution of computer languages

That doesn’t mean that unpopular languages are bad. Some very good languages are not very popular at all. Some languages are still in use but are generally considered to be obsolete.  When a language becomes obsolete, that means it is practically dead, because no new applications will be created with it.

So the first reason why there are a lot of languages is that people keep creating them, even when they don’t really need to.  Another reason is that some languages are much better suited to certain tasks than others.  Some programming languages are also much easier to learn than others.

Evolution of Computer Languages

1843: History of Programming Languages – The Journey starts from here…!!

  • In the early days, Charles Babbage had made the device, but he was confused about how to give instructions to the machine, and then Ada Lovelace wrote the instructions for the analytical engine.
  • The device was made by Charles Babbage and the code was written by Ada Lovelace for computing Bernoulli’s number.
  • First time in history that the capability of computer devices was judged.

1949: The Evolution of Programming Languages – Assembly Language

  • It is a type of low-level language.
  • It mainly consists of instructions (kind of symbols) that only machines could understand.
  • In today’s time also assembly language is used in real-time programs such as simulation flight navigation systems and medical equipment eg – Fly-by-wire (FBW) systems.
  • It is also used to create computer viruses.

1952: Autocode

  • Developed by Alick Glennie.
  • The first compiled computer programming language.
  • COBOL and FORTRAN are the languages referred to as Autocode.

1957: Development of Computer Language – FORTRAN

  • Developers are John Backus and IBM.
  • It was designed for numeric computation and scientific computing.
  • Software for NASA probes voyager-1 (space probe) and voyager-2 (space probe) was originally written in FORTRAN 5.

1958: ALGOL

  • ALGOL stands for ALGOrithmic Language.
  • The initial phase of the most popular programming languages of C, C++, and JAVA.
  • It was also the first language to implement the nested function and has a simple syntax than FORTRAN.
  • The first programming language to have a code block like “begin” that indicates that your program has started and “end” means you have ended your code.

1959: COBOL

  • It stands for COmmon Business-Oriented Language.
  • In 1997, 80% of the world’s business ran on Cobol.
  • The US internal revenue service scrambled its path to COBOL-based IMF (individual master file) in order to pay the tens of millions of payments mandated by the coronavirus aid, relief, and economic security.

1964: BASIC

  • It stands for Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
  • In 1991 Microsoft released Visual Basic, an updated version of Basic
  • The first microcomputer version of Basic was co-written by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Monte Davidoff for their newly-formed company, Microsoft.

1972: C

  • It is a general-purpose, procedural programming language and the most popular programming language till now.
  • All the code that was previously written in assembly language gets replaced by the C language like operating system, kernel, and many other applications.
  • It can be used in implementing an operating system, embedded system, and also on the website using the Common Gateway Interface (CGI).
  • C is the mother of almost all higher-level programming languages like C#, D, Go, Java, JavaScript, Limbo, LPC, Perl, PHP, Python, and Unix’s C shell.

Popular Computer Languages

After the evolution of computer programming languages, let’s take a look at some other popular programming languages and their uses. The other programming languages popular among programmers are listed below.

1972SQLSQL was developed at IBM by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce. The earlier name was SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language).
1978MATLABIt stands for MATrix LABoratory. It is used for matrix manipulation, implementation of an algorithm, and creation of a user interface.
1983Objective-C, C++C++ is the fastest high-level programming language. Earlier, Apple Inc uses Objective-C to make applications.
1990HaskellIt is a purely functional programming language.
1991PythonThe language is very easy to understand.  Famous language among data scientists and analysts.
1995JAVA, PHP, JavaScriptJAVA is everywhere. JAVA is a platform-independent language. PHP is a scripting language mainly used in web programming for connecting databases.JavaScript enables interactive web pages. JS is the most popular programming language. JS is famous for building web applications. It makes our page interactive.
2000C#C#(C-sharp) is mainly used for making games. Unity engine uses C# for making amazing games for all platforms
2009GOGO language is developed in Google by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson. 
2011KotlinKotlin is developed by JetBrains. It is used for making an android application.
2014SwiftSwift language is developed by Apple Inc. It is a general-purpose programming language.

Choosing a Language To Learn

With so many programming languages out there, learning all of them would be impossible.  So you’ll need to narrow down your choices a bit.  Making the choice is really difficult, but here are a few things to think about before you do:

  • Personal preference
  • The kind of things you want to develop
  • How limiting the language is
  • How easy or hard the language is to learn
  • Potential career prospects
  • Whether the language is rising or declining in popularity

When a language starts declining in popularity, that’s often an indication that it’s in danger of becoming obsolete.  One thing you might notice is that the bit about career prospects is near the end of the list.  Many people would be inclined to put it at the top of the list, but actually, that’s a huge mistake, and the younger you are, the more of a mistake it is.  Even so, it still is important.

Knowing what kind of things you’re likely to want to develop is really helpful too.  Here’s a table that might help you decide:

If you mainly want to develop…You should probably learn…And maybe avoid…
Online (web) applicationsHTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and SQLRuby, ASP, Perl, ColdFusion
GamesC, C++, Python, and DarkBASICAda, Java, Fortran, COBOL
Business applicationsC, C++, Java, Python, and SQLFortran, COBOL
Science & Engineering applicationsFortran, Pascal, Ada, C++, and CBASIC, COBOL, Java
Military, Aerospace, Transport, and Communications applicationsAda, Python, C, C++, and SQLCOBOL
Educational ApplicationsBASIC, Python, Pascal, Java, C, C++Fortran, COBOL

It may seem a little odd that COBOL is on the list of languages to possibly avoid if you’re interested in developing business applications because the “B” in COBOL stands for “Business”.  But it’s a really old language that doesn’t have much scope for new development, and it’s really difficult to write programs in it because it has a very strict syntax.


What is the order of evolution of different programming paradigms?

The order of evolution of programming paradigms is structured, procedural, and object-oriented.

Who is regarded as the first programmer?

Lady Ada Lovelace is regarded as the first programmer.

Who invented the compiler?

Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist, mathematician, and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers.


Programming languages are still in the process of evolution in both industries as well as in research. Only time will tell where this journey of programming languages will reach and what this technology will look like when it reaches its pinnacle.

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