How many programming languages have you used?

Learn why there are so many different programming languages.
172 readers like this
172 readers like this

Machines speak one language, but us humans, speak many different ones... programming languages, that is... from Python to Go to JavaScript and many more. It all got started with Grace Hopper.

"The most damaging phrase in the language is: It's always been done that way."

In the 1940s, Grace Hopper was in the Navy Reserves doing programming at the machine level, bit by bit. She realized how limiting it was for humans to use a language meant for machines and wanted to radically change the process by which we program. Without a change, she knew that computing would never reach its potential.

"Once humans could learn to speak programming languages and once compilers began translating our intentions into machine language, it was like opening the floodgates," says the host of the Command Line Heroes podcast, Saron Yitbarek.

Learn more about Grace Hopper and why there are so many programming languages, plus history on the first open source compiler, by listening to Episode 2 of Command Line Heroes Season 2.

Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

10 Comments

A lot of my programming has been based on the needs at work.

- I started VBA in Excel to skim through a massive text file from the mainframe to grab the total number on the very end.
- I learned VB script and SQL to move data from mainframe to SQL Server. Then they started teaching me Pick Basic (a Unidata flavor).
- When I needed to get data from the data warehouse to our Sales reps so I learned ASP (classic).

With the exception of the Unidata above, and Basic and Pascal in High School ('89), the above list was all self-taught while at work.

Tough thing was I didn't know if I learned it right, or wrong until I started taking classes and found advice given from the IT department was the same as what the class said NOT to do.

I did eventually, with a different company, get training on ASP.NET and VB.NET as well as SQL Server.

Meanwhile, at home I was teaching myself Linux, PHP and C#.

From my Linux and PHP experience from home I was tasked to update the company Drupal site from 5 to 7. Not only did I have to learn what Drupal was and how CMSs work, I had to learn to manage the FreeBSD it was on, based on my Linux experience from home.

It took me about 14 months, or as my boss likes to point out "3 Fiscal Years" (it was the last month of one FY, one FY and one month into the 3rd FY.)

The funny thing is that it is the technology I learn on my own (ASP, Linux, PHP) that has lead me to opportunities.

You reminded me that I did learn enough PHP to connect to MySQL and I've dabble with MySQL and exporting its contents to Excel. I did backend work on Drupal and Moodle.

In reply to by Drew Kwashnak

I started visual basic 6 at highschool and definitely I liked it, but after two terms I was enthused by my teacher to learn a new programming languages. So I've been learning new languages such as c#, c++, Java and etc. I really have a motivation to learn new PLs. Recently, I've been learning python to use ML in my projects.

"it's always been done that way".. we use an anecdote we call "cutting the ends off the roast"... Basically it's a story about a girl who wants to know why her mother cuts the ends off the roast when she cooks it... Mom doesn't know and sends the girl on a journey to ask her grandmother and great grandmother to find out that great grandmother cut the ends off the roads because her pan was too small to fit the whole roast... So mommy does it because "it's always been done that way."

I first heard that anecdote at IBM training school in 1974. It is a good story and accurately reflects the state of many places I have worked.

In reply to by AdamWood (not verified)

I'm Front End and Js is enough for me. Also, I need SQL from time to time

I started with AppleSoft BASIC and FORTRAN77, but don't hold that against me. :-)

These days, I use whatever programming language or scripting language is best suited for the job. I usually use Bash when I want to automate something. I prefer PHP if I'm coding a website. I use C if I want low level programming. I might use Awk if I need to manipulate data in a simple way, or Perl if I need to manipulate data in a weird way.

Starting with cobol (bs2000) and asm, rexx (mainframe), prolog, fortran77, basic, moved to c, c++, c#, java, python, perl, php, javascript, rust, golang, ...

I think it's almost easier to tell the languages I didn't make a project in. Brain***k would be one, though, I did have my fun with it, good thinking game :-).

I tend to see programming/scripting languages as frameworks to get a job done efficiently (which rules out Brain***k). For the language itself I couldn't care less, though, ofc I do have preferences :-).

PS: for me personally open source a, GNU and Linux were essential on my path, for compilers became available which were expensive and hard to come by even for private use in those days, like a good C compiler. GNU and Linux were really making a difference for me there. I never learned compiler development, an field I completely missed out in my education, and a skillset I certainly admire, even having developed in ASM. Linux enabled me to use the tools properly with a OS.

BASIC
Pascal
C
Lisp
Modula 2
Assembler (6502,x86, Eclipse-MV, VAX, Sparc)
Objective C
C++
Forth
Postscript
SQL
Java
Groovy
Javascript
ActionScript
Python
Perl
Bourne Shell/Bash
Powershell
C#
XSLT

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