Comp.Lang.Fortran (Formula Translator/Translation)
This language had its inception in 1954, when IBM-sponsored committee headed by John Backus began to work on a Scientific Mathematics Language, which resultant in the invention of FORTRAN compiler was available for about $2.5 million. This language evolved through series of up gradations. This language became widely accepted as a mathematical and scientific language.
This wide acceptance started for standardizing the FORTRAN language, which resulted in two standards-the basic and minimal version of FORTRAN and another full, extended version, which were approved by ANSI (American Nation Standard Institute) in 1966. This, FORTRAN has the distinction of being the first standardizing language.
The FORTRAN program consists of series of instructions, which included input-output, calculation, logic/comparison and other instructions. The advantage of using FORTRAN is that it being compact language, serves the needs of scientists as well as business statistications. It comes with huge library of programs which help scientists and engineers making their task easy.
FORTRAN supports wide business application also, provided they don’t require much data manipulation. The programs written in FORTRAN are portable from one computer to other with slight modifications.
The problem with FORTRAN programs is that, it is very difficult to trace the logic of the program when compared to other High Level Languages. FORTRAN does not support processing of large business files.
This language, as the name suggests is designed specifically for Business Application Development. This language supports huge data processing, which is required in business applications; this made the language very popular for business oriented application development. This language was designed by the group designated for language development under the approval of U.S. Department of Defence.
This group met at conference known as Conference of Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) represented by computer manufacturers, governmental agencies, users, universities and other organizations. The Short-Range committee of CODSYL prepared the framework for COBOL language.
Later the language specifications were developed and by 1961, the COBOL and its compiler were developed and were available for business data processing, CODASYL has formulated other committees that continues to maintain, revise and extent the initial specifications. COBOL was standardized after the publication of ANSI COBOL standard in 1968, which was later revised and the version was approved in 1974 and new standard COBOL-85 was approved in 1985.
COBOL program have definite structure, where the set of statements, which perform same operation are grouped under a common paragraph. These related paragraphs can then be grouped into sections, which again grouped into division. COBOL programs have four divisions in totality to stand up to the hierarchical structure of a COBOL program.
The instructions of COBOL program have to follow a systematic standards which emphasizes, that some statements should start from specific columns which has to strictly followed. The first division of any COBOL program is the IDENTIFICATION DIVISION, which is used for identification of the program and is also used for documentation purposes, this division is followed by ENVIORNMENT DIVISION, which describes the hardware to be used, if the computer changed, and then this division is altered as per new specifications.
DATA DIVISION, the third division of the COBOL program is used for defining all the data items, variables being used in the program, apart from specifying storage locations to be used during the processing, as well as the format of the output is defining here.
The last division, the PROCEDURE DIVISION, contains the sentences, statements and other paragraphs, which are to be executed in the program. All the input/output operational calculations logic/comparison, etc. are specified in this division.
The COBOL is like English, which employs common business terms, which makes it easy to be used, and is machine independent to a great extent. The libraries and COBOL program generators reduce the work of a programmer by automatically producing the code required for the program to an extent of 80%, thus reduce the time required for execution of programs.
The limitations of COBOL are that language is vast and it is difficult to learn as well it is not suitable for complex mathematical calculations.
In spite of these limitations, it is one of the popular languages for business applications.
We have already learnt that the early languages were application specific like FORTRAN was used for scientific application development and COBOL was used for Business Application Development. Later, people felt the need for general purpose language, which resulted in PL/I, which is developed by IBM and committee of users of IBM system/360 computers.
This was in mid 1960s, which was to solve all types of problems, both businesses as well scientific. As PL/I included some of Features of FORTRAN and COBOL, it is a flexible and sophisticated language. The PL/I programs are written as statements, which are combined to form procedures. The program follow modular structure, which helps a programmer to learn specific part only if he limits his area of application development.
The compiler for PL/I is built in, which checks for errors in programs. The basic limitation of PL/I is that it is difficult to learn, in totality, then either FORTRAN or COBOL.
This Language was developed by IBM, for processing business needs. The basic operations performed by RPG is to design and generate reports, which usually include all business purpose general reports like invoices, cheques, orders etc,. We can use it to update files also.
The RPG is very easy to learn and use and it is Limited Purpose Language. This program logic is fixed and is built into their language and never varies, which reduces the programmers work, as he need to give just the file description with specifications about input, calculations and output.
There are fewer rules and syntaxes to remember. This language is suited well for applications where large files are read, fewer calculations are made and the output reports are created.
The limitation of the language is that it has restricted mathematical capability and so cannot be used for scientific applications and other applications, which require huge mathematical calculations.
Auto Coder: This language was quite popular as an assembly language for many PCs. Being an Assembly Language it is very difficult to learn and program using this language. This language never followed structured programming which made it still difficult to learn. This language slowly faded out giving scope for the languages to replace it.
This language is based on the mathematical notation proposed by Kenneth E. lverson in 1962, which was later used by IBM research Institute. This language supports time sharing concept. Popularly known as APL/360, was an experimental “” effort for time sharing system.
This language has a god number of operators, which gave the power to it. These operations made easy the working with matrices and arrays. The APL is capable of handling both the text and numbers. The specific uses of the language include editing of text, teaching and system simulation; as well it can be used for many other purposes.
ALGOL the acronym for ALGO rhythmic Language was introduced in 1958 by the International Group of mathematiciansand was developed by the scientific and mathematical application development. The development of this language was versions of this language can out, like ALGOL 58, ALGOl 60, ALGOL 68 etc., which really was the basis for the development of many other programming languages.
Though FORTRAN is preferred when compared to ALGOL, but still it is popular. ALGOL also follows block-structured modular programming style, quite similar to PL/I.
PASCAL, which is the off spring of ALGOL is not an acronym, but is named in the hounor of great French Mathematician, Philosopher and Investor Blaise pascal. This language was developed in mid 1960s and early 1970s by Professor Nicklaus Wirth at Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology. This was the major language developed after the concepts of structured programming disseminated.
Pascal can be used for both scientific as well as business applications. The important feature of this language is that it allows the programmer to structure the data as he wants. This language gained popularity and many schools and colleges began teaching this language to their students.
Another language of the ALGOL, PASCAL line in Ada, named after the Lord Byron’s daughter, Lady Augusta Ada Love Lace, who is considered to be the first programmer. She worked with Charles Babbage, the father of computers, on the concepts of “Analytical Engine”, the first computer.
This language is sponsored by U.S. Department of Defense for the use by military services, people through it to inefficient, but it is labeled as a major breakthrough in software technology.
It is highly structured language and is used for system programming, especially in the areas where the real-time control of asynchronous events is involved. But Ada, has many more uses, it can be termed as General Purpose Language.
This language was developed by Seymour Papert and his colleagues at Massacheuts Institute of Technology in late 1960s. This was used for scientific application development in universities, but it has been also popularized as an educational language which can be used by children, by which they can achieve intellectual growth and development problem-solving skills.
This language has easy to learn features, which are graphic oriented. This can be used to teach Geometry, Fine Arts, etc., as Logo comes with tools like Logo Turtle (A small triangle of Light), which can be used for drawing and animations. Logo runs on a PC and is used to manage data, compose music, manipulate text etc.
SNOBOL is an acronym for String Oriented Symbolic Language. This language was designed and developed in Late 1960s by a group led by Griswold. This language was intended for manipulation of strings and text processing. The data for SNOBOL is represented in text format and basic text processing can be done using SNOBOL. The operation on strings like searching, splitting, combining, matching etc. can be done easily using SNOBOL.
This language was developed by Phillippe Roussel in early 1970s. Phillippe was the part of the Group for the Artificial Intelligence at the University of Marseilles. The Interpreter for this language was developed in 1972. Prolog came with a relatively new style of programming; this was designed principally for artificially intelligence (AI) applications.
The style of programming involves defining objects and relationships between the classes of objects. This language has a great and strong theoretical foundation. A great attention has been paid to this language due to the role played by it in the Fifth Generation Computer Project.
LISP is the acronym for LIST processing. This language was designed in early 1960s by Mc. Carthy. This language is widely used by researched working in the area of artificial intelligence. The applications of this language vary from game playing, theorem proofs and Non-Numeric Applicationsinvolving logic like pattern recognition etc.
‘C’ language is a general purpose language, which is very powerful. This language includes the Features of Low Level Languages, as well as the features of low level languages, as well as the features of high level language, therefore it is known as middle level language. Dennis Ritchie, the author of the ‘C’ was helped by Ken Thompson, the man behind UNIX operating system (in 1972).
This language is also known as “System Programming Language”, as it is used for writing operating system software. Apart from being used for system software development it is used for Business Application Development, thus it is all purpose programming language.
Compilers for ‘C’ language do come from many organizations, which differ from one another in certain features. ‘C’ language comes with the powerful features like modularity, portability, code-reusability, free from language etc.
‘C’ language comes with a lot of library functions, which help the programmer by reducing his coding efforts. ‘C’ supports varied data types, constructs etc., which makes it much wider usable language.
There are many more Advanced Programming Languages like HTML, DHTML, PERL, JAVA, VBscript, SQL, JCL etc., which are beyond this book’s purview.
- Full Explanation of Evolution of Programming Languages in Computers
- Most Popular Applications of Programming Languages and their Use