The earliest noted adventures of humans with coding take us back to 60 A.D. Heron of Alexander was a Greek mathematician and engineer. He invented the machine that was used to control puppets with the help of strings. The machine could be reprogrammed by rearranging the strings to make the puppets do different things. It can be said that the machine was programmed to make the puppets do certain things and also had scope for reprogramming.
From here, the next big leap in programming was the “Jacquard Loom.” In the 18th century, in France, Joseph Mary Jacquard invented the machine that was used to create prints on rugs and carpets. This machine worked on metal punch cards that the machine would read and weave a pattern accordingly. Thus, you could simply change the cards, and the machine would be reprogrammed to print differently.
History of Coding
The story of coding begins in the 19th century with the works of a certain Ada Lovelace. Ada, born on December 10, 1815, was an English mathematician and writer. She is also commonly referred to as the world’s first computer programmer. Her works, however, were inspired by Charles Babbage’s invention, The Analytical Engine.
Ada first met Charles Babbage at the age of 17, when he had just invented the analytical engine. However, giant strides into the world of programming were made when she came across an article on analytical computers by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. Ada dug deeper into his work and published her own paper in 1843. She indicated that when the machine is fed a sequence of operations, with the help of signs and numbers, it could be competently used to solve various mathematical problems. This can be recognized as the foundation of programming.
Following Ada Lovelace’s work, Alan Turing (Remember Benedict Cumberbatch?) and his computer, The Bombe, made the next major advancement in the world of coding.
In the 1920s, Germans began to communicate using secret coded messages with the help of their famous machine, The Enigma. The British were eager to break through these codes and interpret the messages, and Turing was hired for the job. Turing’s machine was able to break through the constantly altering code and, thus, ease the manual effort and time consumption of code-breaking.
From this point, Turing developed a more flexible, advanced machine known as the “Advanced Computing Engine.” It was named “advanced” because it took “abbreviated computer instructions” to perform its functions. This was arguably the first computer language used and was the focal point at the beginning of the modern programming world.
Development of Programming Languages
The first proposal for a fully developed programming language was PlankalkÜl, formulated by Konrad Zuse between 1942 and 1945. However, this language was never implemented. The earliest significant contributions with regard to programming languages were made in the 1950s when numerous languages were developed.
- In 1954, FORTRAN was developed by a team at IBM led by John Backus. It was the first highly developed language that was fully implemented, rather than just having a theoretical design. It is still a widely used language in the development of high-performance computers and is generally a common feature of the world’s fastest supercomputers.
Moving Forward to the 80s
- From the perspective of coding, the 1980s are considered the golden age of development. In 1983, we witnessed the conception of C++, a language used even today in various tools like Google Chrome, Adobe, etc. In 1987, we saw the development and launch of PERL, a language used by Amazon and IMDB, amongst others.
Throughout the course of your journey, you will be able to see the history of coding from its inception in the 1840s to its current state from a broad perspective and how it has evolved into a stronghold for ushering the world into a more technically and technologically promising future. Automation, machine learning, and AI are paving the way for a new chapter in the coding journey, and if its history is anything to go by, the future holds even more exciting and enthralling stuff to grasp.
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