History of dead programming languages

The world of technology is constantly changing, and programming languages are no exception. Over time, some of them fade into oblivion, leaving behind only lessons and memories. In this article, we will look at dead programming languages, their history, reasons for extinction, and unique features.

Which languages can be considered dead?

Dead programming languages are those that are no longer used in modern development and are not supported by the community. Here are some examples:
COBOL: although still found in legacy systems, active community and development have practically ceased.
Pascal: once popular for learning, has now given way to more modern languages.
Fortran: is used in scientific and engineering calculations, but now its popularity has greatly declined.
Ada: was developed for the US Department of Defense; its use is now limited to specific applications.

Why did they die?

Dead programming languages disappeared for various reasons:

A Brief Overview of Dead Languages


History: Created in 1959.
Features: Used in business, finance, and administrative systems.
Reason for decline: outdated syntax and difficulty to support.


History: Appeared in 1970.
Features: simplicity and structure, used for educational purposes.
Reason for decline: Limited opportunities for the development of complex projects.


History: Developed in 1957.
Features: powerful tool for numerical calculations and scientific work.
Reason for decline: The emergence of more convenient and powerful alternatives.


History: Created in the 1980s.
Features: high reliability and safety
Reason for decline: specificity and high demands on training

Contribution of dead languages to modern programming

Despite the fact that some programming languages are considered dead, their influence on modern technologies and programming approaches remains significant. These "legacy" languages laid the foundation on which many modern software products and developments are built. Let's look at key examples of their contributions and the concepts they brought to the world of IT.

Examples of the influence of old languages on the development of new technologies and programming approaches

Example 1: Structured programming

Pascal, developed in the 1970s, was one of the first languages to promote the idea of structured programming. This approach greatly simplified the process of writing code, making it more understandable and easier to debug. Modern languages such as Python and Java continue to use these principles, emphasizing readability and code structure.

Example 2: Object-oriented programming (OOP)

Although Simula is considered the first language to support OOP, many concepts were developed and refined in subsequent languages, including Smalltalk. These ideas formed the basis of modern languages such as C++, Java, and C#, which use classes, inheritance, and encapsulation to create modular and reusable code.

Example 3: Functional programming

Languages such as Lisp have made significant contributions to the development of functional programming. Concepts such as higher-order functions, data immutability, and recursion, which were popularized by Lisp, are now heavily used in languages such as Haskell, Scala, and some aspects of JavaScript.

Comparative analysis with modern languages

Studying dead programming languages not only allows you to appreciate the historical context of the development of programming but also highlights their influence on modern technologies. Even though these languages are no longer used in current development, many of their concepts and ideas live on in new languages and approaches. Below are examples that demonstrate the contribution of bygone technologies to modern programming.
Feature comparison table
Feature Dead languages Modern languages
Structured programming Pascal Python, Java
Object-oriented programming Smalltalk (though not completely dead) Java, C#, Python
Functional programming Lisp (used but limited) Haskell, Scala, Elixir
Strong typing Ada Rust, TypeScript
Modular concept Modula-2 Go, Rust
Automatic memory management Smalltalk Java, .NET languages

Discussing the relevance of “outdated” ideas

These examples show how ideas first introduced in dead programming languages continue to influence the development and design of modern languages, highlighting their lasting importance to the software industry.

Revival of interest in dead languages

Despite the fact that many programming languages are considered obsolete or even dead, from time to time they find new life thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts, educational initiatives, and unique projects. This section will explore how and why some legacy technologies are gaining renewed attention.
Projects that gave a second life to old languages
Why do communities return to outdated technologies


Studying the history of dead programming languages not only provides insight into the evolution of technology but also provides insight into why some tools disappear while others take their place. This information can be useful not only to historians and researchers but also to practicing programmers seeking to understand development trends in the IT industry and choose the right tool for their projects.

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