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To some people, some degree of expressive power and human-readability is required before the status of "programming language" is granted. First programming languages Edit In the s, the first recognizably modern electrically powered computers were created. They developed subroutines , nesting , and other fundamental programming techniques. The six women invented the discipline of programming digital computers.
Hopper invented one of the first linkers and popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL , an early high-level programming language still in use today. The limited speed and memory capacity forced programmers to write hand-tuned assembly language programs. It was eventually realized that programming in assembly language required a great deal of intellectual effort.
However, the program had to be translated into machine code every time it ran, making the process much slower than running the equivalent machine code. In the early s, Alick Glennie developed Autocode , possibly the first compiled programming language, at the University of Manchester. In , a second iteration of the language, known as the "Mark 1 Autocode," was developed for the Mark 1 by R. Brooker also developed an autocode for the Ferranti Mercury in the s in conjunction with the University of Manchester.
Known as EDSAC 2 Autocode, it was a straight development from Mercury Autocode adapted for local circumstances and was noted for its object code optimization and source-language diagnostics which were advanced for the time.
A contemporary but separate thread of development, Atlas Autocode was developed for the University of Manchester Atlas 1 machine. In , FORTRAN was invented at IBM by a team led by John Backus ; it was the first widely used high-level general purpose programming language to have a functional implementation, as opposed to just a design on paper.
Hopper found that business data processing customers were uncomfortable with mathematical notation, and in early , she and her team wrote a specification for an English programming language and implemented a prototype. This report consolidated many ideas circulating at the time and featured three key language innovations: nested block structure: code sequences and associated declarations could be grouped into blocks without having to be turned into separate, explicitly named procedures; lexical scoping : a block could have its own private variables, procedures and functions, invisible to code outside that block, that is, information hiding.
Nearly all subsequent programming languages have used a variant of BNF to describe the context-free portion of their syntax. Algol 60 was particularly influential in the design of later languages, some of which soon became more popular. The Burroughs large systems were designed to be programmed in an extended subset of Algol. Niklaus Wirth actually walked out of the design committee to create the simpler Pascal language.
History of programming languages