Do you know Python from Cobol? Our quiz features languages old and new
Python is a hugely popular dynamic language used for scripting, but other people swear by the many varieties of the venerable C language, or the Java language built for portability. The oldest widely used language, Fortran, has its devotees, as does Cobol, which emerged at the start of the 1960s and is still in use in many business applications.
The first languages emerged as a way to shield programmers from dealing directly with the hardware of a computer, and allow them to communicate in more easily-understandable concepts.
Eventually, the languages became portable, so that one program could be recompiled for different hardware. This created transferrable skills in languages such as Fortran and Cobol, and computer programming became a profession.
Languages have kept developing, adding different features. Interpreted languages added another angle: these are not compiled, but interpreted at run time, which in theory makes code more portable still.
Programmers will debate endlessly the speed penalties of using different kinds of languages, (compiled versus interpreted) or the efficiency they allow in coding. Getting plenty of work done in a few lines is an important feature for many developers.
Some languages claim to be able to check the maths of a program to prevent errors, while others are specific to certain jobs – for instance variations on the Structured Query Language (SQL) which handles databases.
Ready for a quick scamper through some well-known languages?
And if you like it, try some of our others….