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How did 'they' come up with a computer programming language?

+7 votes
I realize that there are multiple languages that exist in today's world of computers and technology. My question is simply, how did past computer programmers develop the Java language and/or any original language to begin with?
asked Nov 16, 2015 in (Winter 15-16) by Liem Gearen (495 points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
Best answer
Before the invention of "high level" programming languages like Java, to program a computer you had to speak it's native language -- the language of the processor -- which was encoded in binary as a sequence of 0s and 1s.  Each binary sequence meant to do a certain operation... e.g., 0010101 might mean ADD and 0010111 might mean LOAD a number from memory.  This is called "machine language", because it's the language of the machine.  The data being manipulated would also be encoded as binary numbers.

Eventually programmers came up with shorthands (e.g. "ADD" or "LOAD") called "assembly language" that they could write, and which would be automatically translated into the actual binary sequences that the computer runs.  Assembly language is still a "low level" language, because it's similar to how the machine operates, and because it requires a LOT of lines of code to do anything useful.

Later, computer scientists invented high level languages (like Java) that were more expressive, and easier to read/write, and the compiler translates them into the binary.  (But a compiler itself is a program -- how did they write the first compiler?  Well, they had to write it in assembly language or machine language...)
answered Nov 17, 2015 by Forrest Stonedahl (3,438 points)
selected Dec 1, 2015 by Liem Gearen
+2 votes
Ever since the invention of Charles Babbage’s difference engine in 1822, computers have required a means of instructing them to perform a specific task. This means is known as a programming language. Computer languages were first composed of a series of steps to wire a particular program; these morphed into a series of steps keyed into the computer and then executed; later these languages acquired advanced features such as logical branching and object orientation. The computer languages of the last fifty years have come in two stages, the first major languages and the second major languages, which are in use today.
answered Nov 16, 2015 by Trung Vu (100 points)