Which programming language did you think would be prominent, but turned out to be a complete dud?

Wayne Cook, Certified Scrum Master

After reading John Dougherty’s answer on Quora, I was tempted not to answer. But, that was only a fleeting thought.

It is hard to limit it to just one language. I was originally thinking of Ada. It was a structured language designed by committee. It came out when our team was working on SmallTalk at Tektronix. We were looking at various languages to put on our new workstation and Ada was one of the languages we studied. It was a good language but did not have an Object-Oriented component at that time. It has since added that feature, but it is a language I do not see too many people using any more. It was based on Pascal, a language that was used at Universities to teach students programming. It also is rarely used. But they all trace their ancestry back to Algol, another language designed by committee. It was a great language except for nobody being able to agree on the format for input and output commands. Algol’s high point was its use as the low level programming language for Burroughs computers. Burroughs systems were designed around Algol and when the Army asked Burroughs to write “low” level programs in assembler, they had to write an assembler interpreter in Algol. Good language, any structured language can trace its roots to Algol. This includes C, C++, Pascal, Ada, and Java. One of the best languages no one ever uses.

The language I would like to give honorable mention to is LISP. It was invented about the same time as FORTRAN and COBOL and was really popular in the Artificial Intelligence Community. It was the first language I learned after writing two major projects in FORTRAN. It is quite different than any other language using structures within parenthesis for both its programs and data. It made a comeback in the 80’s with Common Lisp and has had some derivatives that are reasonably popular. But of all the languages I have programmed, it remains the one I enjoyed the most.

This entry was posted in Ada, Algol, FORTRAN, Java, LISP, Pascal, Software and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Which programming language did you think would be prominent, but turned out to be a complete dud?

  1. Frank Bennett says:

    Wayne, former neighbor, same HP start day 30 years ago:

    ADA is alive and so-so in the Hardware Description Language – VHDL, a standard for Military and European digital hardware designs. Only 2 out of the eight or so Northern Colorado technical hardware companies use it. Most standardize on Verilog, ‘C’ like for ASIC, FPGA design and verification. There are ongoing discussions as which language is “better” or more comfortable to use. I think better should be measured in which describes logic hardware better and is more productive to provide a correct solution the fastest, that is a definition of a problem that can be understood by a human and compiler in this case to a pile of logic gates. SNUG ran a test a few years ago with two groups coding a solution. The Verilog group finished in 1/2 the time and was optimising their code.

    Where are you inspiring our youth of today to own their tomorrow ?

    • Wayne Cook says:

      Hi Frank,

      Welcome to my website. Just something I am having some fun with. Thank you for the update on ADA. I have not heard about it for a long time, but it is the name of one of my granddaughters. I am teaching computer and mathematics classes at Colorado Early Colleges Fort Collins and am enjoying it. I will be teaching Microsoft Office, C++, Java (both beginning and advanced), as well as an A+ certification class. Missing retirement from HP allows me to work with some great students. I keep the course descriptions for my classes under the Education tab on this page. Take a look.

      Thank you again for visiting this site and your comment.


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