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Popular old and high level languages

Learn: In this article, we are going to learn about the different old and popular high level popular languages. In this we understand the evolution of programming languages. In his article we are going to study about old era of programming languages. In this we understand the different features of old programming languages.
Submitted by Amit Shukla, on September 28, 2017

Today a large number of high level programming languages are available for developing the different types of software application. However, only few of these programming languages are popular among programmers. The following are some of the old and popular high level programming languages used around the world.

  2. LISP
  3. COBOL
  4. BASIC

1) Fortran

Fortran is the most dominant high level programming language employed in the science and the engineering domain. As mentioned earlier, FORTRAN was initially developed by a team led by John Backus at IBM in the 1950’s. since the several new versions of FORTRAN have evolved. They include FORTRAN II, FORTRAN IV, FORTRAN 77 and FORTRAN 90. FORTRAN 90, which is approved by the international organization for standardization, is more portable, reliable and efficient as compared to its earlier versions. The following are some of the important application area where FORTRAN can be employed:

  1. Finding solution to partial differential equation.
  2. Predicting weather.
  3. Solving problems related to fluid mechanics.
  4. Solving problem related to physics and chemistry.


LISP (List processing) was developed by John McCarthy in the year 1958 as the functional programming language for handling data structure known as lists. LISP is mainly used for the purpose of Artificial Intelligence Some of the version of LISP are standard LISP, MACLIP, Inter LISP, MACCLIPS, Inter LISP, Zeta LISP and common LISP.

Some good uses of LISP are:

  1. Easy to write and use.
  2. Support garbage collection.
  3. Supports interactive learning.
  4. Most suitable for AI applications.


COBOL is a high level programming language developed in the year 1959 by Conference On Data System Language (CODASYL) committee. This language was specially designed and developed for the business domain. However, this language cannot be employed for developing system software’s such as operating system.

The most significant versions of COBOL, which are standardized by ANSI, are COBOL-68, COBOL-74, COBOL-85.

Some of characteristics of COBOL are enumerated as follow:

  1. The application developed by this language are simple, portable and easily maintainable.
  2. It has several built in function to automate the various tasks in business domain.
  3. It can handle and process a large amount of data at a time in very efficient manner.
  4. It does not implement the concept of pointers, user defined data type, and user defined function and hence is simple to use.


BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was developed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurty at Dartmaith College, USA in the year 1964. The language was extensively used for microcomputers and home computers during 1970s and 1980s. BASIC was standardizing by ANSI 1978 and became popular among business and scientific users alike. BASIC continues to be widely used because it can be learned quickly.

Main feature of BASIC is:

  1. It is the first interpreted language.
  2. It is a general purpose language.
  3. It is easy to learn as it uses common English words.


PASCAL is one of the oldest high level programming languages developed by Niklaus Wirth in the year 1970. It was the most efficient and productive language of its time. The programming paradigm employed by PASCAL is procedural programming. This programming language was also used for the development of various operating system such as Apple Lisa and Misc.

Some of the most significant characteristics of PASCAL are enumerated as under:

  1. It is simple and easy to learn as compared to the other high level programming language of its time.
  2. It enables the programmer to create the data type according to their requirements that are also referred as user defined data type.
  3. The PASCAL compiler has strong type checking capability that prevents the occurrence of data type mismatch errors in a program.
  4. The data in this language is stored and processed efficiently with the help of strong data structures.

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