What Are The Oldest Programming Language Those Are Still In Use?

This article will explore the oldest programming languages still in use today. We will look at the history of each language, how it has evolved over the years, and how it is still in use today. By the end of this article, readers will have a better understanding of the oldest programming languages and how they have impacted the world of computing.

What Are The Oldest Programming Language Those Are Still In Use

What is a programming language?

A programming language is a formal language that specifies a set of instructions that produces various kinds of output. Programming languages create programs that control a machine's behavior and express algorithms. Programming languages generally consist of instructions for a computer to perform specific tasks, such as calculations or displaying text on a screen.

History of Programming Languages

The history of programming languages dates back to the mid-20th century. The first high-level programming language, Plankalkül, was designed by German computer scientist Konrad Zuse in the 1940s but was not implemented until the 2000s. The first practical programming language was FORTRAN, developed in the 1950s by John Backus. Since then, programming languages have rapidly evolved to meet the needs of the current computing environment.

6 Oldest Programming Languages that are still in use


  • FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) is the oldest, most universal language for programming computer systems. It was created in 1957 and is still used in many scientific and numerical applications.
  • It is a powerful language that enables high-level programming, permitting users to access computer hardware straightforwardly and conveniently.
  • FORTRAN is a popular language for scientists, engineers, and statisticians because it is highly efficient and reliable.
  • Due to its efficiency and scientific capabilities, the language is often used by those in computer programming or engineering for operations such as computing scientific or mathematical data.
  • It does not require specific variable types but applies a variable type when needed. This means that FORTRAN allows for quick and fluid development, allowing the programmer to iterate quickly and produce reliable results.
  • In a broader sense, FORTRAN has enabled businesses to save time and money by using the same set of codes for different operations. Also, it can execute operations faster than other programming languages, reducing the time taken to complete operations.
  • Since its creation, FORTRAN has developed through several revisions based loosely on language levels, such as FORTRAN IV and FORTRAN 77. Its current version, FORTRAN 90, is the first to incorporate data encapsulation and object-orientated programming capabilities.
  • FORTRAN has been a powerful and efficient language used in various scientific, engineering, and business applications for decades. It is a reliable language that facilitates fast and efficient programming and offers a range of features for its users.
  • Furthermore, its scalability and user-friendly interface make it suitable for various applications across multiple industries.


  • LISP (List Processing) is a high-level programming language developed by John McCarthy in 1958. It has become one of the most influential and widely used programming languages, especially in artificial intelligence.
  • LISP stands out among other programming languages due to its use of symbolic calculations. The language was designed around symbols that carry meaning, which represent variables and objects. This approach makes it easy to work with complex data structures and manipulate them quickly and efficiently.
  • Despite its age, LISP is still actively used today and remains a popular language. For example, many software companies, universities, and commercial products still use LISP for technology development.
  • LISP has remained popular for decades due to its simplicity and powerful features. From artificial intelligence to software development, LISP offers many advantages which its uses have appreciated.
  • Its longevity and relevance within the development community are a testament to the ingenuity and power of this language.


  • COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) is a statically-typed programming language that has existed since 1959, making it one of the oldest programming languages known to humanity.
  • The Conference on Data Systems Languages developed it, a joint effort between the US Department of Defence and private industry, to provide a standard approach for commercial data processing.
  • It revolves around transaction processing, report generating and business-oriented operations.
  • Unlike most programming languages, it uses a mostly-English approach to writing code, making it a language much easier to pick up and understand than many of its predecessors.
  • One of the key advantages of COBOL is its compatibility, which allows the same code to work on multiple platforms and hardware architectures.
  • It could accommodate different requirements, which included the ability to handle multiple data types and information.
  • COBOL also uses strong typing, which requires strict rules and specific parameters for programming. This provides for greater understanding and easier troubleshooting when code goes wrong.
  • COBOL is still highly relevant in the day-to-day operations of many organizations and businesses. Many large corporations and organizations still utilize it in some capacity, and a large user base of programmers and developers maintains it.
  • It has also been adapted to fit the current computing landscape and is supported by many programming languages, such as C and Java. This has allowed COBOL to remain a vital language to businesses worldwide.


  • BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a programming language developed in 1964 by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College.
  • The aim was to provide an easy-to-learn language for teaching novices that could be quickly written and run on the university's mainframe computers.
  • It remains one of the earliest programming languages and continues to be used today for teaching students the fundamentals of computer programming.
  • The BASIC syntax is straightforward and uses keywords and expressions familiar to people who know English. It is particularly well known for its use of strings of text and elementary data types such as numerical, string, and Boolean formats.
  • Because of its intuitive syntax and user-friendly design, BASIC was popular for writing programs for all types of computers, from the earliest, most basic machines to the latest, most advanced computers.
  • It quickly became one of the world's most widely used programming languages, owing much of its success to the marketing of its user-friendly versions, such as BASIC-80 and Visual Basic.
  • Despite its age and strong competition from newer and more sophisticated languages, BASIC is still used in many educational and hobbyist environments.
  • In its numerous forms, it continues to provide an excellent way for people to engage in the exciting and rewarding aspects of computer programming.


  • The C programming language is one of the world's oldest and most widely used languages.
  • Developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson at AT&T Bell Laboratories, C is a high-level language that can be used to write systems and application software.
  • It is a general-purpose, procedural and imperative language that provides features such as recursion, typing, and memory management.
  • Because of its speed and portability, C has found many uses, from basic software development to operating systems and embedded applications. Many modern programming languages and frameworks, such as Java and C++, have been based on the principles of C.
  • Throughout its 50-year history, C has gone through many changes to better support modern hardware and the need for new programming techniques. For example, object-oriented programming was not included when the language was first released but has since become an integral part of C.
  • As with all languages, some aspects of the language have made it easier to use, and others have been deprecated or removed altogether.
  • In recent years, C has gained new features, such as generic programming, which allows for increased code reuse and improved safety when writing code.
  • C remains one of the most popular languages for general-purpose and embedded applications. Its intuitive syntax and ability to interface with hardware and system software have kept it at the forefront of high-performance programming for more than four decades.
  • It continues to be used in various aspects of computing, from game development to operating systems and from the Internet of Things (IoT) products to multicore processors.
  • With its ever-increasing popularity, C will remain a valuable programming language in the years to come.


  • SQL (Structured Query Language) is a powerful and popular programming language used to access and manage databases.
  • It was first developed in 1974 and has since evolved over the years, becoming the world's most widely used database programming language.
  • SQL is a declarative language, meaning it describes the desired data in simple terms rather than explicitly stating how it is to be found. This has made it particularly popular with developers, who can query their databases quickly and efficiently.
  • It is commonly used in web development applications such as web forms and dynamic websites.
  • SQL is a powerful database programming language, and its use is only expected to grow over time. Its ability to quickly and efficiently retrieve, store, and modify data make it particularly popular with database developers.
  • Its easy-to-understand syntax makes it easy to learn and can be used to create database applications for a wide range of applications.


The oldest programming languages that are still in use are FORTRAN, LISP, COBOL, BASIC, SQL and C. All these languages are still very important in computing and have been adapted over the years to support more modern languages. Even though they are considered "legacy" languages, they are still used in many organizations and can be a great tool for learning programming fundamentals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is the first programming language?

Ans. Konrad Zuse's Plankalkül(Plan Calculus) is the oldest high-level programming language designed between 1942-45. However, for numerous reasons, including the World War II and poor reception among people, its implementation never happened, and it remained over papers only.

Q2. What was Elon Musk's first coding language?

Ans. Musk first started learning and using BASIC when he was just a 10-year-old child. By the time he was 12, he had managed to create his own video game, BLASTER.

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