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Encyclopedia > Computer Language
Look up computer language & a Brief History of it in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The term computer language includes a large variety of languages used to communicate with computers. It is broader than the more commonly-used term programming language. Programming languages are a subset of computer languages. For example, HTML is a markup language and a computer language, but it is not traditionally considered a programming language. Machine code is a computer language. It can technically be used for programming, and has been (e.g. the original bootstrapper for Altair BASIC), though most would not consider it a programming language. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... A programming language is an artificial language that can be used to control the behavior of a machine, particularly a computer. ... HTML, an initialism of Hypertext Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for web pages. ... A specialized markup language using SGML is used to write the electronic version of the Oxford English Dictionary. ... Machine code or machine language is a system of instructions and data directly executed by a computers central processing unit. ... Altair BASIC, in its first incarnation, MITS 4K BASIC, was a true milestone in software history — the first programming language for the worlds first truly personal computer, the MITS Altair 8800. ...


Computer languages can be divided into two groups: high-level languages and low-level languages. High-level languages are designed to be easier to use, more abstract, and more portable than low-level languages. Syntactically correct programs in some languages are then compiled to low-level language and executed by the computer. Most modern software is written in a high-level language, compiled into object code, and then translated into machine instructions. In computer science, object file or object code is an intermediate representation of code generated by a compiler after it processes a source code file. ...


Computer languages could also be grouped based on other criteria. Another distinction could be made between human-readable and non-human-readable languages. Human-readable languages are designed to be used directly by humans to communicate with the computer. Non-human-readable languages, though they can often be partially understandable, are designed to be more compact and easily processed, sacrificing readability to meet these ends.

Contents

History

Ever since the invention of Charles Babbage's difference engine in 1822, computers have required a means of instructing them to perform a specific task. This means is known as a programming language. Computer languages were first composed of a series of steps to wire a particular program; these morphed into a series of steps keyed into the computer and then executed; later these languages acquired advanced features such as logical branching, object orientation or agent orientation. The computer languages of the last fifty years have come in two stages, the first major languages and the second major languages, which are in use today. Babbage redirects here. ... A branch (or jump on some computer architectures, such as the PDP-8 and Intel x86) is a point in a computer program where the flow of control is altered. ... Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a computer programming paradigm in which a software system is modeled as a set of objects that interact with each other. ... Simple reflex agent Learning agent The terms agent and intelligent agent are ambiguous and have been used in two different, but related senses, which are often confused. ...


In the beginning, Charles Babbage's difference engine could only be made to execute tasks by changing the gears which executed the calculations. Thus, the earliest form of a computer language was physical motion. Eventually, physical motion was replaced by electrical signals when the US Government built the ENIAC in 1942. It followed many of the same principles of Babbage's engine and hence, could only be "programmed" by presetting switches and rewiring the entire system for each new "program" or calculation. This process proved to be very tedious. ENIAC ENIAC, short for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer,[1] was the first large-scale, electronic, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems,[2] although earlier computers had been built with some of these properties. ...


In 1945, John Von Neumann was working at the Institute for Advanced Study. He developed two important concepts that directly affected the path of computer programming languages. The first was known as "shared-program technique." This technique stated that the actual computer hardware should be simple and not need to be hand-wired for each program. Instead, complex instructions should be used to control the simple hardware, allowing it to be reprogrammed much faster. For other persons named John Neumann, see John Neumann (disambiguation). ...


The second concept was also extremely important to the development of programming languages. Von Neumann called it "conditional control transfer." This idea gave rise to the notion of subroutines, or small blocks of code that could be jumped to in any order, instead of a single set of chronologically ordered steps for the computer to take. The second part of the idea stated that computer code should be able to branch based on logical statements such as IF (expression) THEN, and looped such as with a FOR statement. "Conditional control transfer" gave rise to the idea of "libraries," which are blocks of code that can be reused over and over. In computer science, a subroutine (function, procedure, or subprogram) is a sequence of code which performs a specific task, as part of a larger program, and is grouped as one, or more, statement blocks; such code is sometimes collected into software libraries. ...


In 1949, a few years after Von Neumann's work, the language Short Code appeared. It was the first computer language for electronic devices and it required the programmer to change its statements into 0's and 1's by hand. In 1951, Grace Hopper wrote the first compiler, A-0. This lead to faster programming, as the programmer no longer had to do the work by hand. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy officer. ...


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. Today, this language would be considered restrictive as it only included IF, DO, and GOTO statements, but at the time, these commands were a big step forward. Fortran (previously FORTRAN[1]) is a general-purpose[2], procedural,[3] imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. ...


Though FORTRAN was good at handling numbers, it was not so good at handling input and output, which mattered most to business computing. Business computing started to take off in 1959, and because of this, COBOL was developed. It was designed from the ground up as the language for businessmen. Its only data types were numbers and strings of text. COBOL statements also have a very English-like grammar, making it quite easy to learn. All of these features were designed to make it easier for the average business to learn and adopt it. Fortran (previously FORTRAN[1]) is a general-purpose[2], procedural,[3] imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. ... COBOL (pronounced //) is a Third-generation programming language, and one of the oldest programming languages still in active use. ...


In 1958, John McCarthy of MIT created the LISt Processing (or LISP) language. It was designed for Artificial Intelligence (AI) research. Because it was designed for such a highly specialized field, its syntax has rarely been seen before or since. The most obvious difference between this language and other languages is that the basic and only type of data is the list, denoted by a sequence of items enclosed by parentheses. LISP programs themselves are written as a set of lists, so that LISP has the unique ability to modify itself, and hence grow on its own. The LISP syntax was known as "Cambridge Polish," as it was very different from standard Boolean logic. LISP remains in use today because of its highly specialized and abstract nature. John McCarthy may be: Government: John McCarthy (1857–1943), American politician Science: John McCarthy (born 1927), American computer scientist John McCarthy (born 1953), American phonologist Sports: John McCarthy, Mixed martial arts referee Johnny McCarthy, a NBA player Johnny McCarthy, a MLB first baseman John McCarthy, a former Australian rules footballer... For the programming language, see Lisp (programming language). ...


The ALGOL language was created by a committee for scientific use in 1958. Its major contribution is being the root of the tree that has led to such languages as Pascal, C, C++, and Java. It was also the first language with a formal grammar, known as Backus-Naur Form or BNF. Though ALGOL implemented some novel concepts, such as recursive calling of functions, the next version of the language, ALGOL 68, became bloated and difficult to use. Which lead to the adoption of smaller and more compact languages, such as Pascal. It has been suggested that ALGOL object code be merged into this article or section. ... The pascal (symbol: Pa) is the SI unit of pressure. ... Look up C, c in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... C++ (pronounced see plus plus, IPA: ) is a general-purpose programming language with high-level and low-level capabilities. ... This article is about the Java island. ... The Backus-Naur form (BNF) (also known as Backus normal form) is a metasyntax used to express context-free grammars: that is, a formal way to describe formal languages. ...


Pascal was begun in 1968 by Niklaus Wirth. Its development was mainly out of necessity for a good teaching tool. Pascal was designed in a very orderly approach; it combined many of the best features of the languages in use at the time, COBOL, FORTRAN, and ALGOL. While doing so, many of the irregularities and oddball statements of these languages were cleaned up, which helped it gain users. The combination of features, input/output and solid mathematical features, made it a highly successful language. Pascal also improved the "pointer" data type, a very powerful feature of any language that implements it. It also added a CASE statement, which allowed instructions to branch like a tree in such a manner: Niklaus E. Wirth (born February 15, 1934) is a Swiss computer scientist, best known for designing several programming languages, including Pascal, and for pioneering several classic topics in software engineering. ...

 CASE expression OF possible-expression-value-1: statements to execute... possible-expression-value-2: statements to execute... END 

Pascal also helped the development of dynamic variables, which could be created while a program was being run, through the NEW and DISPOSE commands.


C was developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie while working at Bell Labs in New Jersey. The transition in usage from the first major languages to the major languages of today occurred with the transition between Pascal and C. Its direct ancestors are B and BCPL, but its similarities to Pascal are quite obvious. All of the features of Pascal, including the new ones such as the CASE statement are available in C. C uses pointers extensively and was built to be fast and powerful at the expense of being hard to read. But because it fixed most of the mistakes Pascal had, it won over former-Pascal users quite rapidly. Dennis Ritchie Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (born September 9, 1941) is a computer scientist notable for his influence on ALTRAN, B, BCPL, C, Multics, and Unix. ...


Ritchie developed C for the new UNIX system being created at the same time. Because of this, C and UNIX go hand in hand. UNIX gives C such advanced features as dynamic variables, multitasking, interrupt handling, forking, and strong, low-level, input-output. Because of this, C is very commonly used to program operating systems such as UNIX, Windows, the Mac OS, and Linux.


In the late 1970's and early 1980's, a new programming method was being developed. It was known as Object Oriented Programming, or OOP. Objects are pieces of data that can be packaged and manipulated by the programmer. Bjarne Stroustrup liked this method and developed extensions to C known as "C With Classes." This set of extensions developed into the full-featured language C++, which was released in 1983. Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a computer programming paradigm in which a software system is modeled as a set of objects that interact with each other. ... Bjarne Stroustrup Bjarne Stroustrup (IPA: ) (born December 30, 1950 in Aarhus, Denmark) is a computer scientist and the College of Engineering Chair Professor of Computer Science at Texas A&M University. ...


Newer developments

C++ was designed to organize the raw power of C using OOP, but maintain the speed of C and be able to run on many different types of computers. C++ is most often used in simulations, such as games. C++ provides an elegant way to track and manipulate hundreds of instances of people in elevators, or armies filled with different types of soldiers. It is the language of choice in today's AP Computer Science courses.



In the early 1990's, interactive TV was the technology of the future. Sun Microsystems decided that interactive TV needed a special, portable (can run on many types of machines), language. This language eventually became Java. In 1994, the Java project team changed their focus to the web, which was becoming "the cool thing" after interactive TV failed. The next year, Netscape licensed Java for use in their internet browser, Navigator. At this point, Java became the language of the future and several companies announced applications which would be written in Java, none of which came into use.


Though Java has very lofty goals and is a text-book example of a good language, it may be the "language that wasn't". It has serious optimization problems, meaning that programs written in it run very slowly. And Sun has hurt Java's acceptance by engaging in political battles over it with Microsoft. But Java may wind up as the instructional language of tomorrow as it is truly object-oriented and implements advanced techniques such as true portability of code and garbage collection.


Visual Basic is often taught as a first programming language today as it is based on the BASIC language developed in 1964 by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz. BASIC is a very limited language and was designed for non-computer science people. Statements are chiefly run sequentially, but program control can change based on IF...THEN, and GOSUB statements which execute a certain block of code and then return to the original point in the program's flow.


Microsoft has extended BASIC in its Visual Basic (VB) product. The heart of VB is the form, or blank window on which you drag and drop components such as menus, pictures, and slider bars. These items are known as "widgets." Widgets have properties (such as its color) and events (such as clicks and double-clicks) and are central to building any user interface today in any language. VB is most often used today to create quick and simple interfaces to other Microsoft products such as Excel and Access without needing a lot of code, though it is possible to create full applications with it.


Perl has often been described as the "duct tape of the Internet," because it is most often used as the engine for a web interface or in scripts that modify configuration files. It has very strong text matching functions which make it ideal for these tasks. Perl was developed by Larry Wall in 1987 because the Unix SED and AWK tools (used for text manipulation) were no longer strong enough to support his needs. Depending on whom you ask, Perl stands for Practical Extraction and Reporting Language or Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister.


Programming languages have been under development for years and will remain so for many years to come. They got their start with a list of steps to wire a computer to perform a task. These steps eventually found their way into software and began to acquire newer and better features. The first major languages were characterized by the simple fact that they were intended for one purpose and one purpose only, while the languages of today are differentiated by the way they are programmed in, as they can be used for almost any purpose. And perhaps the languages of tomorrow will be more natural with the invention of quantum and biological computers.


Examples

Computer languages include:

A programming language is an artificial language that can be used to control the behavior of a machine, particularly a computer. ... C++ (pronounced see plus plus, IPA: ) is a general-purpose programming language with high-level and low-level capabilities. ... See the terminology section, below, regarding inconsistent use of the terms assembly and assembler. ... Scripting languages (commonly called script languages) are computer programming languages that are typically interpreted. ... A specification language is a formal language used in computer science. ... Machine code or machine language is a system of instructions and data directly executed by a computers central processing unit. ... In relation to computer technology, on the fly describes activities that develop or occur dynamically rather than as the result of something that is statically predefined. ... Bytecode is a binary representation of an executable program designed to be executed by a virtual machine rather than by dedicated hardware. ... In computer science, a virtual machine is software that creates a virtualized environment between the computer platform and its operating system, so that the end user can operate software on an abstract machine. ... Query languages are computer languages used to make queries into databases and information systems. ... SQL (IPA: or ) is a computer language designed for the retrieval and management of data in relational database management systems, database schema creation and modification, and database object access control management. ... XQuery is a query language (with some programming language features) that is designed to query collections of XML data. ... A specialized markup language using SGML is used to write the electronic version of the Oxford English Dictionary. ... HTML, an initialism of Hypertext Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for web pages. ... A transformation language is a computer language designed to transform some input text in a certain formal language into a modified output text that meets some specific goal. ... ... A diagram illustrating all of the basic elements and processing flow of a template engine. ... b fourth-generation programming language(1970s-1990) (abbreviated 4GL) is a programming language or programming environment designed with a specific purpose in mind, such as the development of commercial business software. ... Visual Programming in Mindscript A Visual programming language (VPL) is any programming language that lets users specify programs by manipulating program elements graphically rather than by specifying them textually. ... In electronics, a hardware description language or HDL is any language from a class of computer languages for formal description of electronic circuits. ... In computing, configuration files, or config files, are used to configure the initial settings for some computer programs. ... An initialization file, or INI file, is a configuration file that contains configuration data for Microsoft Windows based applications. ...

History

For history and taxonomy see The Encyclopedia of Programming Languages.

A programming language is an artificial language that can be used to control the behavior of a machine, particularly a computer. ... A specification language is a formal language used in computer science. ... Query languages are computer languages used to make queries into databases and information systems. ... A specialized markup language using SGML is used to write the electronic version of the Oxford English Dictionary. ... A transformation language is a computer language designed to transform some input text in a certain formal language into a modified output text that meets some specific goal. ... A diagram illustrating all of the basic elements and processing flow of a template engine. ... In electronics, a hardware description language or HDL is any language from a class of computer languages for formal description of electronic circuits. ... A stylesheet language is a computer language used to describe the presentation of structured documents. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
computer language - definition of computer language in Encyclopedia (160 words)
A computer language is a language used by, or in association with, computers.
For example, markup languages like HTML are generally not held to be programming languages, but they are computer languages.
Programming languages foster the communication of programs among programmers and computers; markup languages communicate the formatting or structure of documents among humans and computers; and so on.
Self programming language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2148 words)
It was used primarily as an experimental test system for language design in the 1980s and 1990s; however, as of June of 2006, Self is still being actively developed as part of the Klein project which is a Self virtual machine written entirely in Self.
Their objective was to push forward the state of the art in object-oriented programming language research, once Smalltalk-80 had gone out of the labs and began to be taken seriously by the industry.
Dynamic languages such as Smalltalk allowed for this sort of change via well-known methods in the classes, by changing the class the objects based on it would change their behaviour.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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