“Different language patterns yield different patterns of thought. This idea challenges the possibility of representing the world perfectly with language, because it acknowledges that the mechanisms of any language condition the thoughts of its speaker community.” Wikipedia
Antikythera mechanism, invented some time around 100 BC in ancient Greece, is the first known mechanical calculator utilizing gears of various sizes and configuration to perform calculations, which tracked the metonic cycle still used in lunar-to-solar calendars, and which is consistent for calculating the dates of the Olympiads.
The first computer program was written for the Analytical Engine by mathematicianAda Lovelace to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers.
Development of computer programming accelerated through the Industrial Revolution.
To process these punched cards, first known as “Hollerith cards” he invented the keypunch, sorter, and tabulator unit record machines. These inventions were the foundation of the data processing industry. In 1896 he founded the Tabulating Machine Company (which later became the core of IBM). The addition of a control panel (plugboard) to his 1906 Type I Tabulator allowed it to do different jobs without having to be physically rebuilt. By the late 1940s, there were several unit record calculators, such as the IBM 602and IBM 604, whose control panels specified a sequence (list) of operations and thus were programmable machines.
Some of the earliest computer programmers were women during World War II. According to Dr. Sadie Plant, programming is essentially feminine—not simply because women, from Ada Lovelace to Grace Hopper, were the first programmers, but because of the historical and theoretical ties between programming and what Freud called the quintessentially feminine invention of weaving, between female sexuality as mimicry and the mimicry grounding Turing’s vision of computers as universal machines. Women, Plant argues, have not merely had a minor part to play in the emergence of digital machines…Theirs is not a subsidiary role which needs to be rescued for posterity, a small supplement whose inclusion would set the existing records straight…Hardware, software, wetware-before their beginnings and beyond their ends, women have been the simulators, assemblers, and programmers of the digital machines.
In 1954, FORTRAN was invented; it was the first high level programming language to have a functional implementation, as opposed to just a design on paper.
It allowed programmers to specify calculations by entering a formula directly (e.g. Y = X*2 + 5*X + 9). The program text, or source, is converted into machine instructions using a special program called acompiler, which translates the FORTRAN program into machine language. In fact, the name FORTRAN stands for “Formula Translation”.
By the late 1960s, data storage devices and computer terminals became inexpensive enough that programs could be created by typing directly into the computers. Text editorswere developed that allowed changes and corrections to be made much more easily than with punched cards.
Computers have made giant leaps in the area of processing power. This has brought about newer programming languages that are more abstracted from the underlying hardware. Popular programming languages of the modern era include:
- Reliability: how often the results of a program are correct. This depends on conceptual correctness of algorithms, and minimization of programming mistakes, such as mistakes in resource management (e.g., buffer overflows and race conditions) and logic errors (such as division by zero or off-by-one errors).
- Robustness: how well a program anticipates problems not due to programmer error? This includes situations such as incorrect, inappropriate or corrupt data, unavailability of needed resources such as memory, operating system services and network connections, and user error.
- Usability: the ergonomics of a program: the ease with which a person can use the program for its intended purpose. Such issues can make or break its success even regardless of other issues. This involves a wide range of textual, graphical and sometimes hardware elements that improve the clarity, intuitiveness, cohesiveness and completeness of a program’s user interface.
- Portability: the range of computer hardware and operating system platforms on which the source code of a program can becompiled/interpreted and run.
- Maintainability: the ease with which a program can be modified by its present or future developers in order to make improvements or customizations, fix bugs and security holes, or adapt it to new environments.
- Efficiency/performance: the amount of system resources a program consumes (processor time, memory space, slow devices such as disks, network bandwidth and to some extent even user interaction): the less, the better. This also includes correct disposal of some resources, such as cleaning up temporary files and lack of memory leaks.