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The oldest programming languages in use today

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Today, we are going to be discussing some of the oldest, most established programming languages that are still in use today. Some developers may be surprised to learn that many of these languages surpass them in age, in a world where technology, especially in the world of development, is advancing at such a rapid rate. But then, old is gold, after all. So, in age order, let’s present the oldest programming languages in use today:


The C language was created in 1972 (it’s not that old, okay). C is a lower level language that was based an earlier language called B (do you see a trend here?) It is a general-purpose language, and a parent language which many future programming languages derive from, such as C#, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP and Python. It is used in many applications that must interface with hardware or play with memory.


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Pronounced see-plus-plus, C++ was developed 11 years later in 1983. It is very similar to C, in fact it is often considered an extension of C. It added various concepts such as classes, virtual functions, and templates. It is more of an intermediate level language that can be used lower level or higher level, depending on the application. It is also known for being used in low latency applications.


Around the same time as C++ was being released to the public, Objective-C was created. If you took an educated guess from the name and said that it would be another extension of C, then you’d be right. This version was meant to be an object-oriented version of C (there’s a lot in a name, clearly). It is used, probably most famously, by Apple. If you are a Mac or iOS user, then your iPhone or Mac applications were most likely developed with Objective-C (until they recently moved over to Swift).


We are going to take a quick jump ahead in time to the 90’s for this one. In 1991, the Python programming language was released, though it had been in development in the late 80’s. It is a dynamically-typed, object-oriented language that is often used for scripting and web applications. It is usually used with some of its frameworks like Django or Flask on the backend. It is one of the most popular programming languages in use today.


In 1993, Ruby was released. Today, you probably heard of Ruby on Rails, which primarily is used to create the backend of web applications using Ruby. Unlike the many languages derived from C, this language was influenced by older languages such as Perl and Lisp. This language was designed for productive and fun programming. This was done by making the language closer to human needs, rather than machine needs.


Two years later in 1995, Java was developed. This is a high level language that is derived from C. It is famously known for its use in web applications and as the language to use to develop Android applications and Android OS. It used to be the most popular language a few years ago, but its popularity and usage has definitely decreased.


In the same year as Java was developed, PHP was born. It is an open source programming language developed for the purpose of creating dynamic websites. It is also used for server side web development. Its usage is definitely declining, but it is still in use today.


That same year (yup, ’95 was good year for programming, not so much for fans of Full House), JavaScript was brought to the world. Its purpose was to be a high level language that helped with the functionality of a web page. Today, it is sometimes used as a scripting language, as well as being used on the backend of applications with the release of Node.js. It is one of the most popular and widely used programming languages today.


That was our brief history lesson on some in use programming languages. Even though some of them are 20, 30, even over 40 years old, they are being used by thousands of developers daily. They all have a variety of uses, from lower level to higher level, from web applications to mobile applications. Do you feel there is a need for newer languages, or are you happy with what we have? If you have any favorites, let us know which one and why!

About the author

Antonio Cucciniello is a Software Engineer with a background in C, C++ and JavaScript (Node.Js) from New Jersey.   His most recent project called Edit Docs is an Amazon Echo skill that allows users to edit Google Drive files using your voice.  He loves building cool things with software, reading books on self-help and improvement, finance, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter @antocucciniello, and follow him on GitHub here: https://github.com/acucciniello



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