The first programming languages (aka compilers)

“Life was simple before World War II. After that, we had systems.” – Grace Hopper

In 1951 Grace Hopper developed the first English-language data-processing compiler, for the A-0 System (Algorithmic language version 0) language. Computers could then be programmed using written instructions, or in the case of A-0, translate symbolic mathematical code into machine code. A-0 evolved into A-2, the first assembly language compiler. However the problem with these compilers is that they still lacked the ability for novices and non-programmers to effectively write programs – they were inherently un-user-friendly. One of her next compiler successes, FLOW-MATIC (1955), was designed to translate a language that could be used for typical business tasks like automatic billing and payroll calculation.

These infant years of programming language development introduced some of the core language concepts such as input/output and if statements. Few of these languages survived very long, however the breakthroughs in their designs allowed their descendants Cobol (1959), and Fortran I (1957) to make major impacts on computing.

[1] http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/Files/hopper-wit.html

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