This section will cover computer
programming, including its history and the
progression of computer-programming
A computer program is a set of step-by-step instructions that tell a
computer exactly what to do. People who write computer programs
are called programmers.
When the step-by-step instructions are followed, the results will be
those anticipated by the programmer. The computer program will
include decision points and actions to be taken depending on the
Places Where Computer Programs Are
There are computer programs working behind the scenes in many
Grocery stores use computer programs to scan the labels on
Hospitals use computer programs to keep patient records and
scan identification bracelets.
Colleges use computer programs to register students for classes
and calculate grades.
Gas stations use computer programs to dispense gas and accept
Banks use computer programs to dispense cash and track
The content of a computer program is
The sample code on the right is written
in Python. It first defines fruits, and then
it instructs the computer to print the
statements with the appropriate fruits.
Example of a Computer Program
Computer programming is the process of
writing the step-by-step instructions a
computer can understand.
The first step in computer programming
is defining the problem.
The next step is creating a logic problem
that can be solved using a computer
Writing the actual program is the last step
in the process.
Computers read binary machine language
made up of 0s and 1s. Because it is difficult
for programmers to create a program in
machine language, high-level programming
languages have been developed.
A compiler or interpreter is then
used to translate the high-level
programming language into the
machine language that the computer
Like all forms of language, computer-programming
languages enable the communication of information.
Programming languages allow programmers to
communicate instructions to the computer.
Just as there are different languages like
English, Spanish, and French, there are different
programming languages. These programming
languages have their own syntax, which are rules for
how the language is used. In the same way that French
and Spanish use different words to mean the same
thing, different programming languages use different
commands to achieve the same result.
Panel switches were used by hand to program
computers in the 1940s to enter instructions and
data. It was important that the programmers
knew the instruction set for each processor.
As computers became more advanced, computer
programs began to handle some of the entering of
the instructions and data.
Programmers would handwrite the directions in
assembly language programs. Then the Assembly
language, a low-level programming
language, would translate the instructions into
binary machine language for the computer to
understand the directions.
1940s: Programming Languages
1950s: Programming Languages
The first high-level programming languages were
created in the 1950s. Examples include the
FORTRAN was the first high-level
programming language and used the first
compiler. FORTRAN is an acronym for
FORmula TRANslation. It remains a top
language in scientific programming.
COBOL was one of the earliest high-level
programming languages designed for business
applications. COBOL is an acronym for
Common Business-Oriented Language.
LISP was developed and used for research in
During the 1960s, two important programming
languages were developed: C and BASIC.
First the B and then the C computer-programming
languages were developed in the 1960s at Bell
Laboratories. Later in 1973, Unix was written in C
programming language. Can you believe this simple
operating system became the inspiration for Linux and
In 1964, the BASIC programming language was
developed at Dartmouth College. BASIC is an acronym
for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
This language was designed to make it easy for
students to write programs at shared terminals while
learning programming at the college.
1960s: Programming Languages
1970s: Programming Languages
During the 1970s, Microsoft began to release
computer-programming software, and a
programming language was developed for
use in teaching programming.
Pascal programming language was first
defined in 1971, with revisions released
in 1973. It was designed to teach
programming to college students. Until
the 1990s, it was considered the best
language for teaching programming.
In 1975, Microsoft announced the release
of Altair BASIC, the first programming
language for personal computers.
1980s: Programming Languages
Many new programming languages were developed and
introduced in the 1980s.
Ada was published in 1980 as the result of a comprehensive
development project by the US Department of Defense (DoD)
to create a standardized programming language to replace
the 450 programming languages used across the DoD and in
the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Microsoft developed versions of
BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, and Pascal for IBM for its personal
computer in 1980.
C++ programming language was released by Bjarne
Stroustrup in 1985.
Borland’s Turbo Pascal programming language was released.
dBASE programming language and database formulae was
Perl programming language was created in 1986. Perl is an
acronym for Practical Extraction and Report Language.
Microsoft released Visual BASIC in 1987.
Introduced in the 1960s, object-oriented
programming (OOP) grew in influence in
the 1980s. With object-oriented
a program is divided into parts known as
objects can contain data.
objects can contain programs that
perform a specific function.
The “objects” in OOP were important
because they allowed programmers to
handle increasingly complex programs and
collaborate more effectively.
Importance of Object-Oriented Programming
Web-based programming, also known as
browser-based programming, is a significant
innovation of the 1990s through present
Web-based programming enables your web
browser to access a server maintained by a
large company or other organization. For
example, an online merchant uses a server
that you can access using your web browser
so you can buy products from their website.
Java programming language was developed
at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995.
Sun Microsystems has since merged with
Oracle, which oversees the continued
development of the language
1990s through Present time:
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