History of languages: 1990s – super blah

The great age of language design, already waning in the 80’s declined in the 1990s. Okay, so I mean Java appeared in 1995, a creation of Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), and has been successful. BUT, at the time the thinking was it would be able to displace many of the ingrained languages, in their specific domains. This never really happened. Many universities took to teaching Java, but by the early 2000s, this trend had already started to reverse.

The greatest contribution of the 90’s was likely Python. Python, developed by Guido van Rossum, first appeared in 1991. Although not a “compiled” language, it was easy to learn, and extend.

Towards the end of the decade, the C standard moved to C99, incorporating some new data types such as long long, and complex, variable length arrays, and single-line comments in the form of // adopted from C++. Fortran too evolved, with substantial modifications, first to F90, then to F95. Fortran 90 was quite a radical revision for Fortran, one of the most interesting of which may have been the transition from fixed to free-style formatting. F90 also introduced modules, user-defined datatypes, array operations and features (sub-arrays, slicing), pointers, and of course recursion. F95 was in comparison, a minor revision. However the changes made in the 1990’s  allowed Fortran to remain relevant as a programming language.



One thought on “History of languages: 1990s – super blah

  1. codeinfig says:

    while the 60s-80s were about innovation, i think the 80s were marked primarily by applications in teaching (theres a resurgence of that going on now) while the 90s were much about products, products, and products.

    i agree that programming in the 90s was pretty blah in and of itself, but i think youre leaving out the web. despite having mixed feelings about the web itself (mostly due to silos and css) ive been interested in programming since at least 1987, and each decade since the 80s was marked by application rather than “pure” scientific innnovation:

    in the 80s it was teaching, in the 90s it was the web, and now both floss and education are bringing clear innovation back to the forefront.

    even i was so distracted by everything online (using a markup language rather than one for programming) that it is almost understandable that most of the innovation wasnt towards the language itself– but getting it into places no one had seen it before. this is a very upbeat way to paint a time that was indeed very blah for languages themselves, but i think fair is fair.

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