The History of Computer Programming
Computers are only as good as
the programs they run. Programming languages are used by computer programmers to
write specific sets of instructions for the computers
microprocessor to read in order to complete a specific task.
There are many kinds of computer programming languages. Computer pioneer Charles
Babbage's difference engine began to explore what would be the precursor of
personal computers or PC logic. Although he began building it in 1822, both
knowledge and precision parts were scarce. Scientists attempted to finish what
Babbage started, but completed just one part of his work just shy of the 200th
anniversary of his birth in 1991.
It wasn't until ENIAC was born in 1942 that the computer revolution took hold of
the scientific world. ENIAC is the acronym for Electrical Numerical Integrator
And Calculator, a 30-ton monstrosity that contained over 20,000
vacuum tubes and covered 1800 square feet of a room. The programming was
cumbersome because after calculations were performed, it took weeks to reprogram
ENIAC and hard drive data recovery
was virtually non-existent.
It was worth the effort as Dr. John Von Neumann found in 1945, that adding and
storing a converter code to the programming greatly reduced the amount of time
it took for programmers to reprogram. EDVAC continued the alphabet soup and
stood for Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer. Unlike ENIAC, EDVAC
used binary code instead of decimal--series of zeros and ones on punch cards fed
to the computer.
Decimal code is the "first generation" of computer programming, binary, the
It wasn't long until the first rudimentary programming language was developed.
Conditional control transfer Short Code was invented in 1949. Unlike machine
code, Short Code used
statements such as IF, THEN to define a command. An example of an IF, THEN
statement is much like the logic statements of mathematics--IF red, THEN stop or
IF zero, THEN multiply by two. IF, THEN statements evolved without exclusion to
WHEN, THEN statements as in the CASE statement
Rear admiral Dr. Grace Hopper and her team compiled such statements into sets of
commands that the machine would recognize, pull out of its "brain" and execute.
The "compiler" was born in 1952. Third generational higher programming languages
were just around the corner.
FORTRAN was the first of the third generation programming languages, created in
1957, followed by the LISP and Algol languages in 1958 and COBOL in 1959. Third
generation programming languages utilized actual English words or syntax for the
compilers to translate into binary or machine code.
FORTRAN stands for "formula translation" and is still used today for science and
math applications. COBOL or Common Business-Oriented Language is actively used
in business and government applications. LISP is the world's second oldest
higher programming language. It's usage is similar to FORTRAN's usage. Algol or
language gave way to BNF Pascal in 1968. Each calculation could only occur with
a specific sequence of code or function. The Backus-Naur Form or BNF Pascal was
notation describing the syntax of a certain programming language. The higher
level languages made data recovery
much easier to accomplish.
Subsequent languages increased the efficiency of coding programs by using
object-oriented programming as well as scripting techniques and syntax creating
highly structured programming languages liked B and BCPL Object-Oriented
Programming, C++, Perl and Java Visual Basic