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Photo by @valentina_590 from the Netherlands, the country where Guido van Rossum the founder of Python is from

The Evolution of Python and The Fear of Dying Languages

Better Understanding the History of Python and Contemplating the Death of Programming Languages

Earlier this week I wanted to understand how Python started, so I wrote an article about it. Since I am attempting to learn more about programming languages and actually do programming, consider this a defeat or retreat — writing text instead of code. I will first tell you about my current status in writing about the history of Python and I will after this talk briefly of the fear of dying programming languages.

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Screenshot from Guido Van Rossum’s profile taken the 17th of September 2019

2011–21 years of Python

Jumping in history another source that I found interesting from a later point of time was Guido’s presentation called 21 years of Python from May 2011. In this he lists influences on the programming language python as: Algol 60, Pascal, C, ABC, Modula0–2+ and ; Lisp and Icon.

Core Principles in Python Design Philosophy

In this talk by Guido I found the stated core design philosophy of Python.

  1. As simple as possible, no simpler (Einstein)
  2. Do one thing well (UNIX)
  3. Don’t fret about performance (fix it later)
  4. Go with the flow (don’t fight environment)
  5. Perfection is the enemy of the good
  6. Cutting corners is okay (get back to it later)
  7. User Centric Design Philosophy:
  8. Avoid platform ties, but not religiously
  9. Don’t bother the user with details
  10. Discourage but allow coding to the platform
  11. Offer multiple levels of extensibility
  12. Errors should not be fatal, if possible
  13. Errors should never pass silently
  14. Don’t blame the user for bugs in Python
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Is … Programming Language Dying?

A fun or weird phenomenon that I discovered after I started to become interested in programming was advertisements of programming languages dying or ‘what programming language to learn in 2019’ etc. Since programmers spend a considerable time learning programming languages it makes sense that when they do it should be functional and able to keep them employed for some time (or not having to learn yet another language).

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Screenshot from author 17th of September 2019
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Screenshot by author 17th of September 2019, only part of the answer displayed.
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Evolution or Death

It is a bit strange to consider these two concepts next to each other. There is so much talk of … eating … in the software community (data is eating the world etc). So in the word development or developer there may be an idea of evolution or progression towards something. It is strange to consider these different discussions next to each other however it is enjoyable considering the history and the current fear of being outdated even with those considered to be the most ‘up to date’ or ‘advanced’ in society.

Written by

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.

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