The History Of Computing, Or Some Of It

By on July 14, 2004

We found a gem poking around on the corporate network the other day: a PDF of “The History of Programming Languages”, a poster by O’Reilly that shows 50 programming languages and their timelines and interrelationships. Chris posted back in March about the progenitor of this chart, Éric Lévénez’s Computer Languages History, which is kept very up to date (it already has yesterday’s PHP 5.0 release).

A few interesting tidbits from the chart:

  • Ruby and Oak (Java’s predecessor) are among the biggest mutts in programming history, the former taking ideas from 5 languages, the latter from 6.
  • Noone has ever heavily borrowed ideas from COBOL since the sixties (and even then, only PL/I did).
  • BASIC emerged from Fortran and Algol160 (whatever that is).

Equally interesting are the graphs that show the giant UNIX history hairball, as well as the slightly more organized history of Windows.

If I can find a big enough wall, I’m going to send that history of UNIX diagram to the roll-fed plotter we use for UML hairballs.