Which Programming Language Should You learn First?

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Programming is a highly in-demand skill nowadays. Learning a programming language will open many horizons. But which one should you start from?

Nowadays, computers are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives. Some of us find the climb of Human-computer interactions troubling. Nonetheless, computers have significantly altered our lifestyles and environments while our ability to program computers has been the driving force behind their advancement.


Computer programming, in simple terms, is the art of communicating with a computer. It is the process of assigning a set of instructions for the computer to execute. A programming language is a systematic method of writing computer programs, a mode of communication understood by both the programmer and the computer. These languages play a significant role in bridging the gap between the human thought process and a computer’s ability to understand it. Programming languages have a long history spanning centuries, and their evolution over those years has been nothing short of fascinating.


A Brief History

Programming languages are widely assumed to have emerged in the twentieth century; however, this is not the case. The first historically recognized computer program dates back to the nineteenth century. It was developed by a woman named Ada Lovelace in 1843. Lovelace, a mathematician, developed an algorithm that could compute Bernoulli numbers for the Analytical Engine, a calculating machine built by her colleague, Charles Babbage. Ada has since earned the title “the world’s first programmer.”


Lovelace's creation sparked an advancement in programming languages. In the 1940s, German computer scientist Konard Zuse invented Plankalkul, the world’s first high-level programming language. High-level programming languages have a syntax that is more similar to human languages and, thus, easier to write. 


Autocode entered the scene in the early 1950s. Created by Alick Glennie, it was a high-level programming language that used a compiler. A compiler is a program that translates from one programming language to another (usually from high-level to low-level). In 1954, a general-purpose high-level language called FORTRAN was invented. FORTRAN has since served as a basis for many modern-day programming languages.


For the rest of the twentieth century, programming languages were advancing at an unprecedented rate. Programs like List Processor (LISP), Algorithmic Language (ALGOL), and COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language)were developed in the late '50s and early 60s. Some of the most popular programming languages, such as C, SQL, and Pascal, were invented in the 1970s, while the 1980s gave us C++, Objective-C, and Perl. The twentieth century concluded with the development of Python, Ruby, Java, Javascript, and PHP, which are now some of the most widely used languages out there.


Current Stage of Development

The evolution of programming languages did not slow down in the twenty-first century. Already invented languages are being constantly improved while new ones keep appearing. C#, Scratch, Kotlin, Typescript, and Swift are a few of the well-known programming languages created in this era. Programming languages today have more functionality than ever before and are easier to learn.


Which One Should You Learn?

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are many more programming languages out there. Even the most seasoned computer programmer could be intimidated by the sheer number of programming languages to learn. Fortunately, you don't have to master them all. So, which one should you choose?


To answer that question, you must answer another. “Why do you want to learn programming?” As programming languages are increasingly diversified, each language has become specialized for a specific industry or task. For example, if you’re interested in the web and want to build web applications, Javascript is the one for you. If you want to go into data analytics, then Python is your language. But what if you don’t know what you want to build? What if you have no clue where to start? In that case, the safest options are Javascript and Python.


This is due to two factors: The first is that these two programming languages are quite beginner-friendly. They are what are referred to as "untyped" languages, which are significantly easier to learn than "typed" languages since they have fewer rigid syntax rules. There are countless, free resources to learn these languages. The second reason is their multi-functional nature. Javascript and Python are flexible languages, meaning their application spans multiple industries. Whether it's on web and mobile development, cloud-based software development, or game development, Javascript and Python have a place there. Therefore, if you don’t know what to build, these two are your safest option because, by the time you decide on what you want to accomplish via programming, you’ll have the skills for it.  


Programming is a highly in-demand skill nowadays. Learning a programming language will open many horizons for you and you’ll be amazed at what you can build. The diversity and constant improvement of programming languages might intimidate you, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You'll get adept at it much more quickly than you anticipate.

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