The 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
History of Programming Languages (PDF: 701K), which plots over 50 programming languages on a multi-layered, color-coded timeline.
How It Started
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
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. Éric also has Windows and Unix
historical diagrams that he makes available for non-commercial
purposes, all at www.levenez.com
About the O'Reilly Poster
"Cool" is generally the first thing we heard from people who reviewed
our poster. Then came reams of suggestions for additions to the
diagram. We made only a small number of changes--in order to keep the
file in a relatively manageable state that enables us to print and
share the poster--but there is a high level of historical knowledge and
personal experience of the events in this poster among our friends,
authors, and editors. We hope to inspire and capture your comments and
discussion here in our History of Programming Languages
. Please note, however, that we do not intend to update the
poster. Our walls aren't big enough.
Getting Your Copy
The poster is available online in PDF format (701k).
Thanks to all who reviewed and commented on this poster along the way, including
Éric Lévénez, Mark Brokering, Mark Stone, Daniel Steinberg, David Flanagan, Ian Darwin, Tim O'Reilly, Mike Hendrickson, Laurie Petrycki, Geoff Collyer, and Mark Brader.