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Generations of Programming Languages

• Software is written as programs


• Programs are a complete set of instructions written in a programming language, which tell
a computer how to carry out a task
• Programming languages are a set of codes for the step-by-step instructions that direct the
computer to perform the tasks.
• Different languages have been developed to solve the tasks. Development is usually tied to
the development of hardware and/or the development of the user’s needs.
• Programming languages have been divided into two kinds – Low-level languages and High-
level languages.
• There are 5 generations of programming languages.

Low-level Languages
 Are those understood directly by the computer
 Run more quickly than other types of programming languages
 Were the first types of language to be developed
 They are still in use today, especially where speed is required. For example for BIOS on the
ROM chip
 There are two generations of low-level languages

High-level Languages
 Are more portable between different types of computers
 Are understood by humans but not be computers. They are a language more like English
 Must be translated into a code that can be understood by computers
 There are three generations of low-level languages

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Activity1
Go to http://www.99-bottles-of-beer.net// On this site there are many examples of programming
languages that all do the same thing, display the words for the song “99 bottle of beer. Your task is
to find and paste an example of code for each of the language generations.
NOTE: I haven’t yet found the Machine Code version so start at 2nd generation programming
languages.
Once you have copied it describe the main areas of the code.

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Activity2
What am I? (from Carole textbook)
1. I am a generation of programming language written almost in English
2. I am a generation of programming language understood directly by the
computer
3. I use inference engines to make decisions
4. I am the term for meaningful shortened instructions used in second
generations languages
5. My language generation uses three basic control structures
6. I need an assembler to translate my code
7. At this level, I translate one instruction into many lines of machine
code
8. I am the code in which first generation language are written
9. I am the term for a language which will only run on a single type of
processor
10. My language generation is mainly used for database structures
11. I was the first generation of languages to use symbolic storage address
locations
12. I need a parallel processor as I am a highly complex language
generation
13. I am the only language a computer can understand
14. I am the group of languages mainly used for artificial intelligence