Programming Languages – look how far we’ve come!

by @edent | # #

Back in the 1980s, when my family first got a micro-computer, there were only limited ways to program your machine. The Internet was basically non-existent for domestic users. You could buy thick computer manuals, swap cassettes with other enthusiasts, or build a light pen and point it at a flashing square on your TV (Really!)

Or, you could go down to your local newsagent, buy a magazine, and laboriously hand-type in a code listing. Sometimes, they would look like this:

Dense blocks of Machine Code printed in a magazine.

Yikes! Ah, but they were simpler days…

I recently rediscovered an old issue of a British microcomputer magazine called “Input”. It contained code listings for several popular machines. Here’s a sample:

Code Listing in a Magazine.

See those little icons beside each code listing? Here’s what they meant:

List of computers.

Thirteen different computers with seven different programming languages. They share some common syntax, but not much. The commands are terse and unintuitive. But are things any better today?

A properly written Python3 program will run on Windows, Mac, and Linux – whether it’s an expensive desktop or a pocket-money Raspberry Pi.

Or you can write in Go, Java, PHP, Haskell, Ruby, JavaScript – and many others that I’m not cool enough to know.

I know why we have different programming languages – but it sometimes seems that we’re making life unnecessarily hard for ourselves.

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