A Brief history of the Python Programming Language

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A Brief history of the Python Programming Language

There are hundreds of programming languages today but very few beat Python in popularity. Since its inception more than three decades ago, the language continues to grow and is now considered by many as the programming language of the future.

But despite its resurgence, a few common questions that many people continue to ask are:

  • When did the Python programming language come to be?
  • Why is it even called ‘Python’ in the first place?
  • What makes it so popular?

In this quick guide, we explore the answers to these questions and learn interesting facts that touch on the history of this programming language.

The history of Python

For starters, the Python programming language is older than many of its popular counterparts including R, Java, and even JavaScript. The concept behind it was first implemented in the 1980s. The then developer, Guido van Rossum came up with Python as a hobby project during Christmas. His reason for creating it was to help him work on Amoeba operating system in handling and user-interfacing.

His efforts bore fruit with the release of a highly-interpreted, general-purpose programming language in 1991 with him as the principal author. As the sole developer, he was named the Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL) by the early Python community.

Why did van Rossum name it ‘Python’?

While publishing and implementing the language, Guido van Rossum would read published scripts from the 1970 British comedy series ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus.’ It is from this that he borrowed the name as it was short, unique, and slightly mysterious.

When did Python become popular?

After the first release in 1991, van Rossum continued upgrading his language and this saw Python 2.0 come out on October 16, 2000. Python 3.0 later followed on December 3, 2008.

Python 2.0 came with significantly advanced features compared to its predecessor. Some of the most notable ones were the Unicode support, a functional garbage collection system, and an advanced memory management process.

Fast forward to 2003, Python 2.0 was listed in the programming language popularity index which ranks languages based on use and ratings. At this point, it saw an upturn in the number of skilled developers, courses, engineers, and third-party vendors who were using it to create programs and tools.

Python 3.0 would later enter the scene on December 3, 2008 with the language’s new design now more focused on rectifying fundamental structural flaws of its fairly successful predecessor. The development allowed for a change in how Python was implemented during programming. The biggest of these changes was overhauling backward compatibility which makes applications exclusive to each version. Also, this new version sought to eliminate duplicative string concatenation and formatting to speed up the programming process.

Features that made the Python language so popular

The past decade has seen the popularity of Python shoot with developers in big and small tech companies now relying heavily on the language for their development work. Here are a few reasons why this trend won’t be slowing down any time soon in IT fields such as AI, computing, and data management.

Python is easy to code

Despite being a high-level programming language, Python is super-easy to code even for complete beginners. For example, basic Python syntax, string concatenation, and formatting learning are developer-friendly and you can program a project in just a few hours or days.

Support for GUI

The programming language makes it incredibly easy to build intuitive graphical user-interfaces. In particular, it offers a roster of libraries such as Tkinter or Jpython that act as toolkits to deploy your application’s GUI.

High-level programming

Python is a high-level language that you can deploy and run the code without much input or management from your end as the programmer. For instance, you do not need to keep track of coding architecture, structure, or even memory management when developing most projects.

Open-source use

By open-source, it means anyone can access the complete source code and use it as they deem appropriate. And the best part? Python is not governed by any copyright laws which means you can download, change, edit, or distribute it without worrying about the modifications.

What does the future hold for Python?

Python continues to grow at a rapid rate and remains the programming language of choice for many coders and developers today. We expect it to attract even more interest from bigger companies especially those considering going deep into AI and machine learning. It’s by far the most complete language for tech-savvy developers.