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A brief Computer Programming History

If it is the computer programming history that has to be retold, then it is a good idea to begin the story with the Charles Babbage's 'Difference Engine',  way back in 1822.

Even from the time when computers were limited in terms of memory or numerical power, they still needed to have instructions so that they could be able to perform tasks that were entered. 

This set of instructions is what is known today as software, or computer programming.

During the difference engine’s era, the gears needed to be changed manually which would then result into the calculations being made.

All of that was changed when electrical signals replaced physical movements with the US Government’s 1942 machine named ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer).  The concept of accepting flexible programs was also introduced along with this machine. 

To make programming easier and faster, two concepts were developed in 1945 by John Von Neumann (then with the Institute for Advanced Study).  The first concept was known as the 'shared-program method', which dictated that the hardware had to be neither complex nor hand-wired for every program.  Complex instructions were used to control this type of hardware which made reprogramming quicker. 

The second concept, called the 'conditional control transfer', gave birth to code blocks which can be used in different sequences or subroutines.  The next part of the concept was 'logical branching'.  With this, the concept of having code blocks that could be used and reused was born.

By 1949, the Short Code language came out.  It became the mother of computer languages.  With this type of code or language, the programmer was required to use 0’s and 1’s instead of the usual sequences.  1951 marked the appearance of a compiler named A-0 by Grace Hopper.  This program translated all the 0’s and 1’s for the computer.  This gave way to much quicker programming. 

FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslating System) was introduced in 1957 which was also the first key language.  It was designed for IBM for scientific computation.  This language included the GOTO, DO and IF statements.  FORTRAN’s strength was not business computing, though.  It was a good program for number handling but not for business computations.

COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) was then developed in 1959.  It was designed as a business programming language. The COBOL code was comparable to an essay where there are 4-5 sections comprising or wrapping a major whole.  This made it easier to study and use.

The LISP language (LISt Processing - developed for artificial intelligence study) was developed in 1958 by John McCarthy.  This language is highly abstract and specific, and that's why it is still being used today.  The LISP can store lists and modify them on its own.

In that same year, the Algol (short for ALGOrithmic Language) language was produced.  This became the predecessor of the Pascal language, C and C++, and also Java.  Algol had the first proper grammar called the Backus-Naur form, or BNF.  It was not easy to use and so Pascal came into existence. 

Going on with the computer programming history, we can say that Niklaus Wirth introduced the Pascal language in 1968. It was a combination of the following languages: ALGOL, FORTRAN and COBOL.  It was also Pascal that improved the pointer data form. Modula-2 then appeared but C was already popular among many users. 

C by Dennis Ritchie (1972, used by Unix) was comparable to Pascal but its precursors were the B and BCPL.  It is also being used in Windows, Linux and MacOS these days.  OOP (Object Oriented Programming) started its development in 1970’s, and it evolved into the C++ language in 1983.  This is also one of the most chosen language courses in Computer Science. 

In 1987, Perl (Practical Extraction and Reporting Language) was developed.

Java soon followed in 1994.  It has yet many goals to reach, specially with its kind-of-slow running applications.  Microsoft has also developed VB or Visual Basic which uses widgets which are now widely used. 

Python is a kind of evolution and improvement of Perl.

So... the future holds many more developments for computer programming. Looking at the languages in use today, we can see that there were so many developments and improvements achieved that we can only wonder what 'impossibilities' can be made possible very soon... 

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