History of Programming Languages

History of Programming Languages

For 50 years, computer programmers have been writing code. New technologies continue to emerge, develop, and mature at a rapid pace. Now there are more than 2,500 documented programming languages! O’Reilly has produced a poster called History of Programming Languages, which plots over 50 programming languages on a multi-layered, color-coded timeline.

We first saw the “History of Programming Languages” diagram, created by Éric Lévénez, while visiting our French office. We were so taken with the level of detail and the visual impact of viewing 50 years of programming history that we wanted to come up with a way to share it more widely. We started big. We printed it out full-size, all 18 feet of it, on our plotter and ran it along a wall at our Mac OS X Conference last fall. So many people came by to make notations on the diagram that we knew there would be a lot more interest and discussion if we could only get it in a more manageable format. With Éric’s permission, we collected comments from our authors, editors, and friends, and rebuilt the file so we could print it at its current dimensions, 39″ x 17″. Éric maintains a site with his original diagram, change logs, an explanation of how he creates his charts, and links to additional resources such as Bill Kinnersley’s Language List of over 2,500 programming languages.

O’Reilly 2007

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