logoFrom LOGO promotional material:

The fun and easy programming language for all ages. Yes the turtle that draws! Beginners can learn it within minutes, yet LOGO is far from a simple language. It is as powerful as any other language. The language was based on LISP and designed to teach both young and old to program. Because it gave immediate feedback, this was very appealing to users unfamiliar with computers.

Logo is a unique piece of software. In the purest sense, Logo is a programming language; it is a full-featured computer language derived from LISP, the language of artificial intelligence. More important, however, Logo is a language for learning. It is the right tool to teach the process of learning and thinking. Logo provides an environment where students assume the role of teacher.


programming2The SIMULA programming language was designed and built by Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard at the Norwegian Computing Centre (NCC) in Oslo between 1962 and 1967. It was originally designed and implemented as a language for discrete event simulation, but was later expanded and reimplemented as a full scale general purpose programming language. Although SIMULA never became widely used, the language has been highly influential on modern programming methodology. Among other things SIMULA introduced important object-oriented programming concepts like classes, objects, inheritance, and dynamic binding.


basicBASIC (Beginner’s All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a system developed at Dartmouth College in 1964 under the directory of J. Kemeny and T. Kurtz. It was implemented for the G.E.225. It was meant to be a very simple language to learn and also one that would be easy to translate. Furthermore, the designers wished it to be a stepping-stone for students to learn on of the more powerful languages such as FORTRAN or ALGOL.


programming2The LISP programming language was invented by John McCarthy at MIT in 1958. Since it’s inception, it has been closely related with artificial intelligence research. It used many principles from the first AI language, Information Processing Language. He published a paper showing that one could build an entire language using simple operators and functions.

The language was first implemented on an IBM 704 computer, and the first LISP compiler was written in 1962. It was also used in some of the earliest artificial intelligence systems like SHRDLU. In the early 1970s, computing memory power wasn’t enough to run truly efficient LISP code, so dedicated LISP machines were built. In the 80s and 90s the different variations of the code that had spawned were unified into the Common LISP standard, but by then it’s glory days were over. It is one of the oldest known languages, and is still in use today along with it’s siblings COBOL and Fortran.


fortran-2There is a debate about who designed the first high-level programming language, i.e. the first one to be compiled. FORTRAN is usually credited, Knuth and Pardo in 1977 credit Alick E. Glennie for his Autocode compiler for the Manchester I computer in 1952. Backus gives credit to Laning and Zierler at MIT who in 1953 built an algebraic translator for the MIT Whirlwind computer.

At IBM in 1954, John Backus and a group started to design the FORmula TRANslator System, or FORTRAN. Computers were slow and unreliable and all programming was done in machine or assembly code. Work was completed in 1957 and the implementation supports what is called FORTRAN I. The authors claimed that the resulting code would be as efficient as handcrafted machine code. FORTRAN included many features that were specific to the IBM 704, the first computer on which it was implemented.

FORTRAN II followed in 1958. It included separate compilation of subroutines. FORTRAN III was short-lived, and FORTRAN IV followed in 1962. This remained the standard until the ANSI FORTRAN standard was produced in 1977. The latest is FORTRAN 90, summarized in ANSI X3.198-1992. For many years, FORTRAN dominated programming, and was described as the lingua franca, or common tongue, for computer programmers.


cobolCOBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) was one of the earliest high-level programming languages. It was developed in 1959 by a group of computer professionals called the Short Range Commitee, a group formed by a Pentagon meeting to find a short range solution to a common business language. There were other committees as well, and experts from many computer companies such as IBM , Honeywell, RCA, and Sylvania made up each group.

Eventually a sub-committee of the Short Range group composed of William Selden and Gertrude Tierney from IBM, Howard Bromberg and Howard Discount of RCA, and Vernon Reeves and Jean E. Sammet of Sylvania Electric Products created the original COBOL specification near the end of 1959. They were influenced and inspired by Grace Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language and IBM’s COMTRAN. The specifications were published in January 1960 as COBOL 60 and the language itself developed about six months later.

Many COBOL based applications are still in use today. In 1990 the Gartner Group estimated 80% of existing computer code was COBOL.