A bit of programming language history

When I started programming, I used C and just a bit of Fortran. I took my first degrees in electrical engineering, and at the time those languages were the default choice for scientific and numerical computing on workstations. The Java wave was just building at the time, Perl was for sysadmins, and Python was a toy.

That’s how the landscape appeared from my limited perspective. As I started working more deeply in computer science, I started glimpsing odd languages that I couldn’t quite place (Smalltalk? Tcl?). If you follow data analytics and big data, you’ll see a bewildering array of new and old languages in use. Java is still around, but we also have a lot of functional languages to consider as there’s a concerted effort to expose data analysis languages to big data infrastructure. R, Erlang, Go, Scala, of course Java and Python – how do we keep track?

I was very happy to find a lovely diagram showing how these languages have evolved from common heritage. It’s on slide 2 of this presentation from the Data Science Association.

This may be old hat to those who’ve been in the space for a long time, but I find this sort of programming language history very useful. Now I’ve got to find out what in the world Algol 60 was.

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