Third Generation (Programming) Language (3GL)

Definition - What does Third Generation (Programming) Language (3GL) mean?

A third generation (programming) language (3GL) is a grouping of programming languages that introduced significant enhancements to second generation languages, primarily intended to make the programming language more programmer-friendly.

English words are used to denote variables, programming structures and commands, and Structured Programming is supported by most 3GLs. Commonly known 3GLs are FORTRAN, BASIC, Pascal and the C-family (C, C+, C++, C#, Objective-C) of languages.

Also known as a 3rd generation language, or a high-level programming language.

Techopedia explains Third Generation (Programming) Language (3GL)

Moving away from the cryptic commands of Assembly Language and one step below Fourth Generation Languages, programmers in 3GLs are favored by using aggregate data types, variable names and the ability to define sections of code as subroutines. The program in 3GL is called the Source Program or Source Code and it subsequently converted by a specialized program, the Compiler, to Object Code, understandable by the specific computer and CPU.

Since the introduction of the Compiler in 1952, hundreds of 3GLs have been developed, specifically providing benefits for programmers of applications serving various business and scientific domains. In 1957, IBM created FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator) to facilitate computerized mathematically-intensive scientific research. COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language) was instrumental in spurring a surge of programs serving the business arena, with its enhanced ability to provide record keeping and data management services. Most of the general purpose programming languages used today such as C, C++, C# and Java are 3GLs.

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