User:LGreg/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge (LG seminar 2020/21)/Seminar 18/History/History of Programming

History of programming


Analysing the history of programmation is key to comprehend how computer works and how those powerful tools have brought new ethical dilemnas. Programming finds its sources in a sequence of algorithms published by the English noblewoman Ada Lovelace in 1883. [1] Those type of programmation were the first to compute bernouilli numbers for example. [2]

Programming as a new field of exploration


Ada Lovelace developed structural data analyser for Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine, which would remain as the first program ever read by a machine. Charles Babbage was himself a pioneer in computer programming as he perceived calculations as composed of a lot of smaller mechanisms, that could be translated in "an input device, a processor, a control unit and an output device". [3] This interpretation started as a foundation for future more powerful algorithms, as it meant that any complex algorithms or calculus could be broken down into easy structured materials.

Programming and logic


In 1936, a British mathematician and philosopher Alan Turing came around the enigma machine and became the founder of programmation as we know it today. [4] His discoveries were in fact based on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, George Bool and Gottlob Frege works on the creation of a logical language that could translate words into concept for which a new alphabet was created. [5] Alan Turing computed machine was able to translate encrypted messages that the Nazis were communicating to their different armies. The performance that could be achieved by his machine made the analyses much quicker than working out by hand how to decrypt them, as much more combinations could be treated at the same time. [6]

= Programming and Code's of programmation as a discipline


Languages used in programmation were syntactically different from the ones we use today such as:

  • Java that covers object-oriented programming model
  • Python that was first released in 1991 and that is one of the simplest coding language widely used for financial analyses of data or data analyses
  • C created by Dennis Ritchie mainly used in game development and supercomputers

Programming is a particular discipline as it's nowadays often self-taught, which means that you can find all the tools required online to learn those languages mentioned before. Historically, the fundamental logic behind those languages relies on Alan Turing's type of programmation, where every possible statement can be interpreted as a binary set of 0 and 1, with 0 being a false value and 1 being a true value. But back then, they had to be composed of Assembly language that were limited in speed and memory capacity. By extending their capacities throught technological progresses, programmation has reached real ethical issue. [7]. Our technological tools have entered much more our private world, which inevitably raises questions of ethical values. This new type of thinking was first based on Norbert Wiener's work, a professor of mathematics and engeenering at MIT. The world of machineries had to bei interconnected to other field of studies such as phylosophy or history as there needed to be a code of ethics for controlling the computer, and more broadly, the digital industry.
This new internet era that embraced the world in 1980 has lead us to IA, with upcoming countries like India with more than 200,000 new engineerings each year who has become the third in the world in AI development and industry. [8]. On the other hand, superpowers such as The Unites States of America or China are trying to gain larger importance in the AI domain, having to confront themselves to more and more ethical issues regarding personal datas. [9]


  1. Ada Lovelace: Programming Pioneer
  2. Computer Programming - History of Computer Programming [Internet]. [cited 18 October 2020]. Available from:
  3. Staff T. The Pioneers of Computer Programming [Internet]. 2020 [cited 18 October 2020]. Available from:
  4. Shankar S. The History of Programming Languages - A Complete Guide [Internet]. Acodez Blog. 2019 [cited 18 October 2020]. Available from:
  5. The Universal Computer, by Martin Davies
  6. Enigma Code Breakers - How Breaking the Nazi Code Helped Win World War II
  7. Cybernetics (1948), The Human Use of Human Beings (1950) and God and Golem, Inc. (1963) by Norbert Wiener
  8. Raghavan R. Is India Becoming The World’s Next Tech Superpower? [Internet]. Acodez Blog. 2020 [cited 18 October 2020]. Available from:
  9. AI Superpowers China, Silicon Valley and the new world order