Timeline of Programming Languages

the timeline of Programming

ca. 1946

Konrad Zuse, a German engineer working alone while hiding out in the Bavarian Alps, develops Plankalkul. He applies the language to, among other things, chess.


Short Code, the first computer language actually used on an electronic computing device, appears. It is, however, a "hand-compiled" language.


Grace Hopper , working for Remington Rand, begins design work on the first widely known compiler, named A-0. When the language is released by Rand in 1957, it is called MATH-MATIC.


Alick E. Glennie, in his spare time at the University of Manchester, devises a programming system called AUTOCODE, a rudimentary compiler.


FORTRAN--mathematical FORmula TRANslating system--appears. Heading the team is John Backus, who goes on to contribute to the development of ALGOL and the well-known syntax-specification system known as BNF.


FORTRAN IIappears, able to handle subroutines and links to assembly language.John McCarthyat M.I.T. begins work on LISP--LISt Processing.

The original specification for ALGOLappears. The specific ation does not describe how data will be input or output; that is left to the individual implementations.


LISP 1.5appears.

COBOLis created by the Conference on Data Systems and Languages (CODASYL).


ALGOL 60, the first block-structured language, appears. This is the root of the family tree that will ultimately produce the likes of Pascal. ALGOL goes on to become the most popular language in Europe in the mid- to late-1960s. Compilers for the language were quite difficult to write and that hampered it widespread use. FORTRAN managed to hold its own in the area of numeric computations and Cobol in data processing. Only PL/1 (which was released in 1964) managed to advance ideas of Algol 60 to reasonably wide audience.

Sometime in the early 1960s, Kenneth Iverson begins work on the language that will become APL--A Programming Language. It uses a specialized character set that, for proper use, requires APL-compatible I/O devices.


Snobolwas designed in 1962 in Bell Labs by R. E. Griswold and I. Polonsky.

APLis documented in Iverson's book,A Pro gramming Language.

FORTRAN IVappears.

Work beginson the sure-fire winner of the "clever acronym" award, SNOBOL--StriNg-Oriented symBOlic Language. It will spawn other clever acronyms: FASBOL, a SNOBOL compiler (in 1971), and SPITBOL--SPeedy ImplemenTation of snoBOL--also in 1971.


ALGOL 60is revised.

Work begins on PL/1.


System/360, announced in April of 1964,

PL/1is released with high quality compiler. Later two compilers: debugging and optimizing were added. Both represented state of the art of compiler writing. Cornell university implemented subset of PL/1 for teaching called PL/C with the compiler that has very advanced error detection and correction capabilities. PL/1 was also adopted as system implementation language for Multics.

APL\360is implemented.

At Dartmouth University, professors John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz invent BASIC. The first implementation is a compiler. The first BASIC program runs at about 4:00 a.m. on May 1, 1964.




FORTRAN 66appears.

LISP 2appears.

Work begins on LOGOat Bolt, Beranek, & Newman. The team is headed by Wally Fuerzeig and includes Seymour Papert. LOGO is best known for its "turtle graphics."


SNOBOL4, a much-enhanced SNOBOL, appears.


The start of the first religious cult in programming language design and use by Edgar Dijkstra who published his infamous "Go to statement considered harmful" (CACM 11(3), March 1968, pp 147-148). While misguided this cult somewhat contributed to the design of control structures in programming languages serving as a kind of protestant movement in control structures design. Later it  degraded into completely fundamentalist verification cult.

ALGOL 68, the successor of ALGOL 60, appears.  Was the first extensible language that got some traction but generally was a flop. Some members of the specifications committee--including C.A.R. Hoare and Niklaus Wirth -- protested its approval on the basis of its overcomplexity. They proved to be parcially write:  ALGOL 68 compilers proves to be difficult to implement and tat doomed the language. 

ALTRAN, a FORTRAN variant, appears.

COBOLis officially defined by ANSI.

Niklaus Wirthbegins work on Pascal the language design (in part as a reaction to Algol 68). Like Basic before it, Pascal was specifically designed for teaching programming at universities and as such was quite simple in design which allowed creation of one pass recursive decent compiler. But the problem was the while talented language designer Wirth went overboard in simplification of the language (for example loops were the allowed to have only increment one, arrays were only static, etc). It also promoted bizarre ideas of correctness proofs of the program inspired by verification movement with the high priest Edgar Dijkstra -- the first mass religious cult in programming languages history that destroyed careers of several talented computer scientists who joined it such as David Gries).  Some of blunders in Pascal design were later corrected in Modula and Modula 2.


500 peopleattend an APL conference at IBM's headquarters in Armonk, New York. The demands for APL's distribution are so great that the event is later referred to as "The March on Armonk."


Sometime in the early 1970s, Charles Moore writes the first significant programs in his new language, Forth.

Work on Prologbegins about this time.

Also sometime in the early 1970s, work on Smalltalk begins at Xerox PARC, led by Alan Kay. Early versions will include Smalltalk-72, Smalltalk-74, and Smalltalk-76.

An implementation of Pascalappears on a CDC 6000-series computer.

Icon, a descendant of SNOBOL4, appears.


The manuscriptfor Konrad Zuse's Plankalkul (see 1946) is finally published.

Denni s Ritchieproduces C. The definitive reference manual for it will not appear until 1974.

The first implementation of Prolog-- by Alain Colmerauer and Phillip Roussel -- appears.


Donald E. Knuth published his article that give a decisive blow to "structured programming fundamentalists" led by Edgar Dijkstra: Structured Programming with go to Statements.ACM Comput. Surv. 6(4): 261-301 (1974)

Another ANSIspecification for COBOL appears.


Paul Abrahams (Courant Intritute of Mathematical  Sciences) destroyed credibility of "structured programming" cult in his article " 'Structure programming' considered harmful"  (SYGPLAN Notices, 1975, April, p 13-24

Tiny BASICby Bob Albrecht and Dennis Allison (implementation by Dick Whipple and John Arnold) runs on a microcomputer in 2 KB of RAM. A 4-KB machine is sizable, which left 2 KB available for the program.

Bill Gates and Paul Allenwrite a version of BASIC that they sell to MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) on a per-copy royalty basis. MITS is producing the Altair, an 8080-based microcomputer.

Scheme, a LISP dialect by G.L. Steele and G.J. Sussman, appears.

Pascal User Manual and Report, by Jensen and Wirth, is published. Still considered by many to be the definitive reference on Pascal.  This was kind of attempt to replicate the success of Basic relying of growing "structured programming" bonanza started by Edgar Dijkstra. Pascal acquired large following in universities as compiler was made freely available.

B.W. Kerninghandescribes RATFOR--RATional FORTRAN. It is a preprocessor that allows C-like control structures in FORTRAN. RATFOR is used in Kernighan and Plauger's "Software Tools," which appears in 1976.


Backlash onDijkstracorrectness proofs cult started:

  • Andrew Tenenbaum (Vrije University, Amsterdam) published paper InDefense of Program Testing or Correctness Proofs Considered Harmful(SIGPLAN Notices, May 1976 pp 64-68)
  • Maurice Wilkes, famous computer scientists and the first president of British Computer Society (1957-1960) attacked"verification cult"in this article Software engineering and Structured programming published in IEEE transactions on Software engineering (SE-2, No.4, December 1976, pp 274-276. The paper was also presented as a Keynote address at the Second International Conference on Software engineering, San Francisco, CA, October 1976

Design System Language, considered to be a forerunner of PostScript, appears.

Made the crucial contribution to the "Structured programming without GOTO" programming debate, which was a decisive blow to the structured programming fundamentalists led byE. Dijkstra;


AWKwas probably the second (after Snobol) string processing language that extensively use regular expressions. The first version was created in BellLabs by Alfred V. Aho, Peter J. Weinberger, and Brian W. Keringhan in 1977. This was also the first widely used language with built-in garbage collection.

The ANSI standard for MUMPS-- Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System -- appears. Used originally to handle medical records, MUMPS recognizes only a string data-type. Later renamed M.

The design competition that will produce Adabegins. Honeywell Bull's team, led by Jean Ichbiah, will win the competition.  Ada never live to promises and became an expensive flop.

Kim Harrisand others set up FIG, the FORTH interest group. They develop FIG-FORTH, which they sell for around $20.

Sometime in the late 1970s, Kenneth Bowles produces UCSD Pascal, which makes Pascal available on PDP-11 and Z80-based computers.

Niklaus Wirthbegins work on Modula, forerunner of Modula-2 and successor to Pascal.  It was the first widely used language that incorporate the concept of coroutines.


AWK-- a text-processing language named after the designers, Aho, Weinberger, and Kernighan -- appears.

The ANSI standardfor FORTRAN 77 appears.


TheBourne shellwas included Unix Version 7and theC shellin2BSD, both released in1979.

REXX was designed and first implemented between 1979 and mid-1982 by Mike Cowlishaw of IBM.




Franz LISPappears.

Bjarne Stroustrupdevelops a set of languages -- collectively referred to as "C With Classes" -- that serve as the breeding ground for C++.


C-shellwas extended intotcsh,

Effort beginson a common dialect of LISP, referred to as Common LISP.

Japan beginsthe Fifth Generation Computer System project. The primary language is Prolog.


ISO Pascalappears.



REXXwas included in the third release of IBM's VM/CMS shipped in 1983;

TheKorn shell(ksh) was released in 1983.

Smalltalk-80: The Language and Its Implementationby Goldberg et al is published.

Ada appears. Its name comes from Lady Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace and daughter of the English poet Byron. She has been called the first computer programmer because of her work on Charles Babbage's analytical engine. In 1983, the Department of Defense directs that all new "mission-critical" applications be written in Ada.

In late 1983and early 1984, Microsoft and Digital Research both release the first C compilers for microcomputers.

In July, the first implementation of C++ appears. The name is coined by Rick Mascitti.

In November, Borland's Turbo Pascal hits the scene like a nuclear blast, thanks to an advertisement in BYTE magazine.


R.E.Griswold designed Icon programming language Icon (seeoverview). Like Perl Icon is a high-level,  programming language with a large repertoire of features for processing data structures and character strings. Icon is an imperative, procedural language with a syntax reminiscent of C and Pascal, but with semantics at a much higher level (see Griswold, Ralph E. and Madge T. Griswold. The Icon Programming Language, Second Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. 1990, ISBN 0-13-447889-4.).

A reference manualfor APL2 appears. APL2 is an extension of APL that permits nested arrays.


The first PC implementation of REXX was released.

Forthcontrols the submersible sled that locates the wreck of the Titanic.

Vanilla SNOBOL4for microcomputers is released.

Methods, a line-oriented Smalltalk for PCs, is introduced.


Smalltalk/Vappears--the first widely av ailable version of Smalltalk for microcomputers.

Apple releases Object Pascalfor the Mac.

Borlandreleases Turbo Prolog.

Charles Duffreleases Actor, an object-oriented language for developing Microsoft Windows applications.

Eiffel, another object-oriented language, appears.



The first version of Perl,Perl 1.000wasreleasedby Larry Wall in 1987. See an excellent PerlTimelinefor more information.

Turbo Pascalversion 4.0 is released.


The specification for CLOS-- Common LISP Object System -- is published.

Niklaus Wirthfinishes Oberon, his follow-up to Modula-2.


The ANSI Cspecification is published.

C++ 2.0arrives in the form of a draft reference manu al. The 2.0 version adds features such as multiple inheritance and pointers to members.


Paul Falstad wrote zsh, a superset of the ksh88 which also had many csh features.

C++ 2.1, detailed inAnnotated C++ Reference Manualby B. Stroustrup et al, is published. This adds templates and exception-handling features.

FORTRAN 90includes such new elements as case statements and derived types.

Kenneth Iversonand Roger Hui present J at the APL90 conference.


Visual Basicwins BYTE's Best of Show award at Spring COMDEX.


Dylan-- named for Dylan Thomas -- an object-oriented language resembling Scheme, is released by Apple.


ksh93was released by David Korn.

ANSI releases the X3J4.1 technical report-- the first-draft proposal for (gulp) object-oriented COBOL. The standard is expected to be finalized in 1997.


Microsoftincorporates Visual Basic for Applications into Excel.


In February, ISO accepts the 1995 revision of the Ada language. Called Ada 95, it includes OOP features and support for real-time systems.


First ANSI C++ standard .


In 1997 Java was released.


Dennis Ritchie, 70, Dies,

SET (Maharashtra) Examination 16th April 2017

1 Commencement of online Application 27 Dec 2016
2 Last date for Applying Online 10 Jan 2017
3 Availability of Admit Card on website 06 Apr 2017
4 Date of Examination 16 Apr 2017


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