The Different Generations of Languages

There are currently five generations of computer programming languages. In each generation, the languages syntax has become easier to understand and easier for humans to read.

  • First generation languages (1GL) – Represents the very early, primitive computer languages that consisted entirely of 1’s and 0’s – the actual language that the computer understands (machine language).
  • Second generation languages (2GL) – The second generation is a step up from the first generation languages. It allows for the use of symbolic names instead of just numbers. Second generation languages are known as assembly languages. Code written in an assembly language is converted into machine language (1GL).
  • Third generation languages (3GL) – With the languages introduced by the third generation of computer programming, words and commands (instead of just symbols and numbers) were being used. These languages therefore had syntax that was much easier to understand. Third generation languages are known as “high level languages” and include C, C++, Java and Jacascript, among others.
  • Fourth generation languages (4GL) – The syntax used in 4GL is very close to human language, an improvement from the previous generation of languages. Fourth generation languages are typically used to access databases and include SQL and ColdFusion, among others.
  • Fifth generation languages (5GL) – Fifth generation languages are currently being used for neural networks. A neural network is a form of artifical intelligence that attempts to imitate how the human mind works.
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