Language history

Rocky asks the question “What languages and language families have you been competent in during your career?” and provides his own list. Here’s mine, in order, as I remember it:

  1. BASIC (IBM-5100, a precursor to the IBM PC)
  2. BASIC (TRS-80 Model III)
  3. APL (IBM-5100)
  4. AppleBASIC (Apple ][+ and Apple ][e)
  5. UCSD Pascal (IBM PC)
  6. Unix shell scripting (not sure the machine)
  7. C (ditto)
  8. Turbo Pascal (IBM PC)
  9. GBBS Pro BASIC (a custom BBS language, Apple ][e)
  10. Scheme (Mac)
  11. C++ (IBM PC)
  12. Haskell (Sun)
  13. Visual BASIC 1.0 to present day (Windows & .NET)
  14. SQL (Access & SQL Server)
  15. Java (Windows)
  16. MSIL (.NET)
  17. C# (.NET)

And there is a small smattering of experience with other languages, but no significant programming experience. Broadly, this breaks down to the following families:

  1. BASIC
  2. Pascal
  3. C
  4. Functional languages like Scheme, Haskell, etc.
  5. Other

I’ll also add that the entry for “APL” is really a joke. I started programming on IBM-5100s over at Duke University. The 5100 had the distinction of having a switch on the front panel marked “BASIC/APL”. Depending on which position the switch was in, that’s the language you used when the machine booted up. Somehow, my friend Tom and I came into possession of some mag tapes (which is what the 5100 used for storage) with a bunch of games written for the 5100, including an adventure game written in APL. I seem to remember really wanting to learn how to modify the adventure game and so I set about learning APL. Unfortunately, I was probaby 11 years old at the time and had nowhere near the necessary mathematical foundations to be able to understand the language, so the whole enterprise was a bust. So Tom and I fell back to writing an adventure game in BASIC. I think I still have a printout of “Escape from Carr Building” somewhere around here…

Updated 02/17/05: How could I forget SQL?

6 thoughts on “Language history

  1. Scott Swigart

    Ug! This is a little like looking at the garbage left in de-allocated disk sectors that haven’t been overwritten yet…

    (roughly in order)


    Commodore Vic20/C64 basic




    Turbo Pascal

    6502 Assembly

    Apple ][e Basic

    That cruddy DOS batch file "language"

    C – (Where’s my K&R book)

    C++ (and associated old libraries (XWindows, STL, Rogue Wave libraries, NIH libraries, etc.)

    FMLI (don’t ask)

    KSH (Korn shell for UNIX)


    Regular expression languages of various flavors






    VB(something (4 maybe?) – VB.NET



    J# (they made me do it)



    XSD (and XDR)

    XSLT (and that XSL working draft)


    XQuery (a little)



    XAML (a teeny, tiny bit)

    I’m seeing other keywords and symbols float by, but I can’t place them.

    And then there’s all the pseudo languages – design patterns, modeling notations, methodologies, object models, etc. It’s amazing how much stuff we were absolutely immersed in that’s now 100% useless. I guess this is why I don’t get too attached to any language any more. Computer languages certainly aren’t forever.

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