• Question: When you programme something you use a programming language that has been programmed so how was the first programming language programmed?

    Asked by niobium555 to Anna, Iain on 20 Mar 2014.
    • Photo: Anna Middleton

      Anna Middleton answered on 20 Mar 2014:

      Hi Niobium555
      I’m sure Iain will have a brilliant answer for you on this. All I know about programming is that it started in the 1940s and there are many ways of doing it that have evolved since.

      Where I work we have programmers who create software from scratch and this controls all sorts of different things, e.g. it can make robots work in a certain way in our labs and it can track samples as they move around. I also worked with a programmer myself who created a survey I have used to collect the views of 7000 people from 91 different countries. The survey has 10 films in it and you can see it here: http://www.genomethics.org

    • Photo: Iain Moal

      Iain Moal answered on 21 Mar 2014:

      This is a really great question. There is a programming language which wasn’t programmed, all computers have it, and it is the fundamental language from which all other other languages ultimately lead to. It is called assembly language, and in order to understand it you have to understand something called machine code.

      Machine code is the code that the computer understands. Machine code dictates exactly what electrical currents flow around the circuit-boards on the computers mircrochip. The code is made up of a limited number of instructions, and everything a computer does is caused by different combinations of these instructions. Assembly language corresponds exactly to these instructions and is interpreted by the computer directly, not by a program running on the computer. The very first computer programs were written in assembly language.