The growing popularity of modern connected computing dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. The personal computer and later the World Wide Web combined to create an unprecedented explosion in the availability of information and the ability to immediately connect with our fellow human beings.
To the layman, this may seem like magic. But for the people who actually built those systems, using programming languages to manipulate how computers, servers, the web, and other services work the way they were meant to.
Most of these programming languages are open, which means anyone can use them and add to their functionality. But just as computing has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years, so have the programming languages developers use to run these computers. Nothing is static, everything is constantly changing.
For example, did you know that one of the most popular open source programming languages in 1993 was Emacs Lisp? For those of you who have never heard of Emacs, it is a very popular text editor created by free software guru Richard Stallman that is used by the Linux developer crowd. Due to its extensibility, many programmers use it to create code, since there are not many full-fledged Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) for Linux and the few tend to be avoided. Emacs Lisp is a derivative of the older Lisp programming language.
The C programming language was the most popular open source code in 1993 with 51% of total commits in the first quarter of that year. Make a utility that automatically builds executable programs and libraries from source code for Unix developers, was used by 6% of developers in 1993.
In the first quarter of 2013, Java was the most used open source code with 12%. C++ recorded 11% while HTML had 10%.
The evolution will continue. In 1993, there were nearly 40 open source programming languages. In 2013, there are nearly 100 and new ideas are emerging every day.
We were able to visualize the percentage of total commits in a given quarter for the top 16 programming languages from 1993 to present. We hope you find this image, a provocative pattern of dips and spikes, as interesting as we do. It really shows how dynamic the programming world is. We’ve also included some charts on other interesting data points: total languages per year, average lines of code per commit, and tracking which languages influenced the development of others.
Top image of Open Cola, an open source soft drink, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons