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11 Programming Languages that Lost Their Mojo

Language is what connects people, and just like in the rest of the world, IT has its own set of languages. They may phase in and out of relevance, but there are always at least a few in regular circulation. In an article for InformationWeek, Curtis Franklin Jr. explores eleven IT languages that have lost their significance.

Yesterday’s Darlings

The first of these is Ada, a language commissioned by the US Department of Defense in an effort to condense and secure the wide array of information being processed in a variety of languages. Its problem was that its design was too ambitious, and because of this it became very complicated very quickly. Ada can still be seen sparingly in places such as the medical field, but its destiny is to be eventually phased out.

Algol is one of the original computer languages and brought with it code blocks and nested code. ALGOL 60 provided the basis for other languages.

APL made it relatively simple to turn complex mathematics into a program. APL relies on a plethora of symbols, and this, in part, is why it is so arduous to understand. It still exists sparingly today in fields that require very complicated programming, like mathematics or physics.

Forth was developed to be utilized for embedded control programming. Forth can be seen today in the embedded world… somewhere.

LISP was developed because of a need for a programming language from early artificial intelligence researchers. After years of decline, LISP is slowly making a comeback because of a need to add intelligent features to smaller systems.

Logo is a programming language that was designed to teach coding concepts. Formally a dialect of LISP, this program was developed by Seymore Papert in an effort for people to visually be able to see a “turtle” travel around the screen and indicate to them what to do.

When Niklaus Wirth developed Pascal, he uncovered that it ultimately did not possess all of the necessary elements to be a teaching tool: enter Modula-2. This new program brought with it, most significantly, the idea of modules and a block of code.

Pascal was designed with the intent to be a language that could be utilized for teaching the concepts of structured programming. Eventually, object-oriented programming became more favorable to the structured approach, and Pascal fell.

Depending upon what type of coding was being done, that dictated what language was being used, and there was no universal language until PL/I. IBM developed a set of goals for the language, including improving FORTRAN’s numeric capabilities. A PL/I compiler is still in existence, but it never set the world on fire.

The Report Program Generator (RPG) came up around the time of FORTRAN and COBOL, but it was stuck with one vendor and one platform. It was utilized frequently in an effort to take a block of code and be able to apply it to every database record. RPG keeps going through evolution and is reinvented, but it remains on this list all the same.

The final lost language is Smalltalk, a very small-scale language that operated under the goal of remaining not complex. Unfortunately this program required vast amounts of memory and did not produce applications that were very fast.

These eleven languages held their pertinent place in the realm of coding, but now they are being moved out in favor of better-equipped languages.

You can read the original article here: http://www.informationweek.com/it-life/11-programming-languages-that-lost-their-mojo/d/d-id/1321678

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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