Programming Language Generations

What Does Programming Language Generations Mean?

Programming language generations are classifications of programming languages, which reference different eras of programming history. This classification indicates how programming power is increasing. Some consider this progress as programming features formerly considered significant become less important.


Techopedia Explains Programming Language Generations

First generation programming language has been described as coding, not programming, because programmers had to enter the program to the computer in the form of machine code rather than a written language. And the algorithm itself was written on paper.

The second generation appeared with programming languages that completely substitute machine code. The programmer wrote the program through the assembly language; then an assembler automatically interpreted it into a machine code. The first such languages were the FORTRAN, COBOL and ALGOL.

The third generation was much more developed. Reasons included:

  1. Algorithms became independent from the machine vendor running it.
  2. Typed languages had a solid access control over the available data from different storage devices.
  3. Block structures first appeared in the form of functions and subroutines. These extended the program power and saved lots of programming time and effort.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…