Computer Programming Languages - History of Computer Programming Languages

Computer Programming Languages

The first easy-to-read computer programming language was created by the American woman Grace Hopper in 1952. She created the first compiler, which modern computer languages depend on. Compilers transform code from words and commands that are easy for a human to read into something the computer can understand.

Grace Hopper called her simple computer language "A". In 1954 she became the first Director of Automatic Computing for the Remington Rand Corporation, and made improvements to her computer language. In 1959, her computer language was extended to become COBOL, the COmmon Business-Oriented Language. COBOL became a very widely-used programming language, and many pieces of software written in COBOL are still in use today. For example, the New York Stock Exchange still depends on computers that are running COBOL software.

  • Grace Hopper entered the United States Navy Reserve in 1943. From 1967 to 1977, she was the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group. She was promoted to Captain in 1973, and Rear Admiral in 1983.

  • Before Grace Hopper created her first programming language, the only way to program a computer was in machine code or assembly language. Assembly language is made up of raw computer instructions, and handles individual elements of the computer's memory. It is very difficult for a person to understand a large piece of assembly code.

  • Grace Hopper's invention of an easier-to-read computer language changed what computers were capable of. They became much more than just machines for mathematics.

  • Computer languages can either be compiled or interpreted. A compiled language is transformed into computer instructions all at once. Interpreted languages are read line by line, so one line at a time is transformed into computer instructions. Both types depend on Grace Hopper's pioneering work.

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