I'd like to read a book on the history of programming languages, that places their development into the context of their times. What was the context in which concepts like structured programming, object oriented programming etc were developed? I was introduced to programming when OOP was well developed and hence I don't really know what it was like for OOP to be developed for the first time. Similarly for structured programming, procedural etc.

Is there a good book that starts with the first programmers who worked directly in computer code, and goes through the different developments, showing how the developments were non-trivial at the time (even though from our current perspective they might seem natural and obvious)?

  • $\begingroup$ There is a Stack Exchange website also related to the question: "History of Science and Mathematics" hsm.stackexchange.com . $\endgroup$
    – beroal
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


There is an infrequently held conference series called History Of Programming Languages (HOPL). It was held in 1979, 1993, and 2007, the fourth installment is scheduled for middle of June, 2020.

The Proceedings for HOPL-I and HOPL-II were also published as books, for HOPL-III, both the papers and video recordings of the presentations are available. (Including the highly entertaining, though not necessarily highly scientific 50 in 50 by Guy Steele and Dick Gabriel, presenting 50 language-related ideas from 50 years in 50 words each within (a little bit more than) 50 minutes.)

There is also a website called Online Historical Encyclopaedia of Programming Languages, which collects about 9000 languages and presents them in the form of a hypergraph with several kinds of relationships (evolution-of, influence, dialect, …, also people involved, regions where it was developed, institutions, etc.) between them.


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