Begun in 1958 by an international committee, the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery), ALGOL was a hugely influential series of algorithmic programming languages. Culminating in ALGOL 60 in 1960, later languages were heavily influenced by ALGOL’s concepts for lexicon, structure, and syntax. It’s considered the first of the so called second-gen computer languages, and was the first to introduce the block structure. For a time in the early 1960s it was the predominant language in Europe, and today most modern code is a descendant of ALGOL.

Automatically Programmed Tool (APT)

programming2The Automatically Programmed Tool (APT) programming language was invented at MIT’s legendary Servomechanisms Lab by Douglas T. Ross. The high level code was used to generate instructions for machine tools used in manufacturing.

APT is used to calculate a path that a tool must follow to generate a desired form, and it sparked a revolution in computer assisted manufacturing.

Created before FORTRAN and graphical interfaces, it also resulted in the first ANSI standard. It was used from 1959 to well into the 1970s. The language is now in the public domain, but there were many derivatives created over the years to run on minicomputers and beyond. It was so revolutionary to the industry it was crafted for, there are still elements of it being used in modern CAD/CAM design.


programming2One of the first high level programming languages written for a computer, Plankalkül was created by Konrad Zuse in Nazi Germany during World War II. Stemming from his work on the Z1 and Z2, he developed the language between 1943 and 1945. It was a non-von Neumann,  algorithmic  language and has been compared to APL.


rubyThe Ruby programming language was conceived on Feb 24th, 1993 by Yukihiro Matsumoto. It combined Perl-like syntax with object oriented features. Matsumoto has often stated that he wanted a scripting language more powerful than Perl but more object-oriented than Python.  Similar to other languages including Lisp, it’s written in C as an interpreted language.  The name Ruby was created before the code had been developed, and a large factor in this choice was because it was the birthstone of one of Matsumoto’s friends. Although the name has no exciting origins, Ruby has flourished as one of a class of newer, modern programming languages.

Ruby 0.95 was publicly released on Dec. 21st, 1995, followed by three more versions in two days. Version 1.0 was released on Christmas Day, 1996. In 2005 a web application framework written in Ruby, Ruby on Rails, was introduced. The framework quickly became quite popular and helped fuel adoption and recognition of Ruby itself.  An index that measures the growth of programming languages currently places Ruby at number nine among all languages worldwide. Ruby-Talk, the primary mailing list  for discussion of the Ruby language, has climbed to an average of 200+ messages per day.


computer11HTML is the lingua franca for publishing hypertext on the World Wide Web. It is a non-proprietary format based upon SGML, and can be created and processed by a wide range of tools, from simple plain text editors – you type it in from scratch- to sophisticated WYSIWYG authoring tools. HTML uses tags to structure text into headings, paragraphs, lists, hypertext links etc.


java-logoJava began life at Sun Microsystems in late 1990. It is an object oriented language developed by James Gosling and colleagues. It was originally called “Oak” after the tree outside of Gosling’s window and is often confused with Javascript, which is bears no similarity to it except in syntax and name. Originally the team consisted of Gosling, Patrick Naughton, and Mike Sheridan.

They at first considered using C++, but each found the language problematic for many of their goals. After initially attempting to modify and extend C++, Gosling finally decided to create a new language entirely. Portions of the new code would be demonstrated in the summer of 1992. Later in 1994 the team was reunited to apply the technology to the internet, writing one of the first Java web browsers and it was around this time it was actually named “Java”.

In the summer of the same year, the browser and platform was shown to executives and the first public release was on May 23rd, 1995. At the same time, Netscape announced it would include Java support in it’s browser. Sun currently maintains the Java code and updates it regularly.


perlInvented by Bell Labs employee Larry Wall in 1987 and released to the comp.sources.misc newsgroup on December 18th, 1987, this venerable scripting language had originally been intended to manipulate text information. It was based on the C language and later went on to play an important role in the development of the web. One of the oldest, simplest, and most powerful programming languages in existence, it enjoys a hardcore following, and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. It’s earned it’s place in the great moments of computing history by still being in use to power websites and applications today. Perl version 5 was released on September 17th, 1994.

In 2001, it was decided that Perl 6 would run on a cross-language virtual machine called Parrot. As of 2005 both Perl 6 and Parrot were under active development. Perl 6 has yet to see the light of day and is one of the most famous pieces of vaporware ever.


codingBjarne Stroustrup invented C++ in 1983 while working at Bell Labs, improving on the original C language. An extension to C, it is a descendent of the language B developed by Ken Thompson for the Unix operating system, and unlike C it is an object oriented language.


The original concept of relational databases was introduced with the publication of “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Databanks” in 1970 by Dr. E.F.Codd. The SQL language itself was originally created by Donald Chamberlin and Raymond Boyce at  IBM based on Codd’s model in the early 70s.  Originally called SEQUEL (Structrued English Query Language), it was designed to be used with IBM’s RDBMS System R. It was later renamed to SQL due to a trademark on the original name held by an aircraft company.

In 1979 Relational Software, Inc., now known as Oracle, used the concepts created by Chamberlin and Boyce in the first commercially available implementation of SQL. Introduced as Oracle V2 for VAX computers, it was ahead of IBM’s System/38 computer by a few weeks. It was later also used in SQL/DS and DB2.  SQL would later go on to become the dominant query language for most relational databases including Microsoft’s SQL Server, MySQL, and many others, cementing it in technology history as the primary engine for most databases throughout the next several decades.

C Programming

The_C_Programming_Language_logo.svgThe C programming language was invented at Bell Labs in the early 70s by Dennis Ritchie and was intended to be used with Unix. It has since become a widely used language in many areas including system software and in computer science education. It has spawned C++ and influenced many other languages that came after. Initial development began in 1969 and reached it’s peak in 1973, with Richie calling it C after another programming language called B.  The origins of the system are now of mythical proportion, including a story about it being created solely to play one of the earliest computer games on a PDP-11. In 1973 Unix was rewritten entirely in C, a testament to it’s power. Today the language still lives on along with it’s other implementations.