Computers, and technology in general, have improved in the last 70 years. If we compare the type of technology we used as kids to what our kids are using today, it is mind boggling. Ideas that once seemed like science fiction are now part of our everyday reality.
A Short Technology History Lesson
So, for you history buffs, how did we get here?
- Charles Babbage: Charles Babbage (1791-1871) has been called the father of computing. He created Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 1, which was the first successful automatic calculator.
- Ada Lovelace: Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was a pioneer of computer science. Throughout her studies she discovered that anything could be converted into numbers (music, language) and could then be manipulated by computer algorithms. An analytical engine would revolutionize the way the entire world operated. Her published work was instrumental in Alan Turing’s discoveries.
- Alan Turing: Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a code-breaking war hero. In WWII, he worked as a British code-breaker and helped to decipher the German Enigma code. After the war he built the blueprints for store-program computers. His experiment, known as the “Turing Test” has greatly impacted discussions on artificial intelligence. In 1999, Time magazine named him one of the “100 Most Important People of the 20th century” as everyone who uses a keyboard, spreadsheet or word-processing program is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.
The Progression of Programming Languages
Not only has technology drastically changed, but so have the languages that the programs are run on. Here is a quick overview of how far we have come with programming languages:
- Fortran (1957)
- Cobol (1959)
- Basic (1964)
- C (1969)
- Pascal (1970)
- Perl (1987)
- Ruby (1993)
- PHP (1995)
- Ruby on Rails (2005)
To get an idea of just how far technology and programming have come: the Apollo 11 mission's computers were less powerful than today's mobile phones.
How Has Computer Programming Changed?
The 1990s saw a boom in programming languages that were geared to the internet and this evolution has not stopped. Now, individual companies (like Facebook) are creating their own coding languages. This evolution shows the importance of a current, up-to-date education program for children who are learning to read and write code. However, recently we have seen a mass exodus of students (especially women) out of computer science programs.
Why are so many people staying away from computer science? It has been suggested that labelling programming as computer “science” narrows the scope of the discipline. Instead, programming should be considered a science and an art. There needs to be a strong emphasis on making sure that the creative process is not lost in science.
4 Reasons Why We Should Teach Kids to Read and Write Code
- Coding helps develop problem-solving skills: Children who learn to read and write code are able to break larger problems down into manageable tasks. These are important lifelong skills for children to learn and use.
- Coding encourages creativity: Computer programming has wrongly been thought of as boring or predictable. The opposite is true. Possibilities are endless and coding can be highly entertaining and interactive.
- Younger children can learn new skills so much faster: Research has shown that children learn new languages much quicker when they are younger. Since computer programming is a literacy and is learned very similar to how a language is learned, the same can be said for learning to read and write code.
- Coding is everywhere: Technology is increasingly more prevalent in our homes. From digital assistants to interactive fridges, our children need to learn how to properly use the technology that surrounds them.
Why Are Computer Programming Skills Important?