A programming language is a set of commands, instructions, and other syntax use to create a software program. Languages that programmers use to write code are called "high-level languages." This code can be compiled into a "low-level language," which is recognized directly by the computer hardware.
High-level languages are designed to be easy to read and understand. This allows programmers to write source code in a natural fashion, using logical words and symbols. For example, reserved words like function, while, if, and else are used in most major programming languages. Symbols like <, >, ==, and != are common operators. Many high-level languages are similar enough that programmers can easily understand source code written in multiple languages.
Examples of high-level languages include C++, Java, Perl, and PHP. Languages like C++ and Java are called "compiled languages" since the source code must first be compiled in order to run. Languages like Perl and PHP are called "interpreted languages" since the source code can be run through an interpreter without being compiled. Generally, compiled languages are used to create software applications, while interpreted languages are used for running scripts, such as those used to generate content for dynamic websites.
Low-level languages include assembly and machine languages. An assembly language contains a list of basic instructions and is much more difficult to read than a high-level language. In rare cases, a programmer may decide to code a basic program in an assembly language to ensure it operates as efficiently as possible. An assembler can be used to translate the assembly code into machine code. The machine code, or machine language, contains a series of binary codes that are understood directly by a computer's CPU. Needless to say, machine language is not designed to be human readable.
- In 1957, the first of the major languages appeared in the form of FORTRAN. Its name stands for FORmula TRANslating system. The language was designed at IBM for scientific computing. The components were very simple, and provided the programmer with low-level access to the computers innards.
- Simula, invented in the late 1960s by Nygaard and Dahl as a superset of Algol 60, was the first language designed to support object-oriented programming. C, an early systems programming language, was developed by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson at Bell Labs between 1969 and 1973.
- If you want to learn a language with a large number of speakers and which is spoken in many countries, the ones to choose in order of 'usefulness' are: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Japanese, Portuguese and Hindi/Urdu.
- The world's most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language, according to figures from UNESCO, are: Mandarin Chinese English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.
- 1957 - Fortran (short for “The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System”) General-purpose, high-level. For numeric and scientific computing (as an alternative to assembly language). Oldest programming language still used today. 1959 - Cobol (short for "Common Business-Oriented Language) High-level.