“Software is eating the world,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously declared. Someone has to write that software. Why not you?
There are thousands of programming languages, but some are far more popular than others. When a company goes out to find new programming talent, they’re looking for people familiar with the languages and systems they already use — even as new languages like Apple Swift start to make a splash.
Here are the programming languages you should learn if you always want to have a job, as suggested by the popular TIOBE Index.
C: One of the oldest programming languages still in common use, C was created in the early 1970s. In 1978, the language's legendary and still widely read manual, the 800-page 'The C Programming Language,' saw print for the first time.
Python: This language traces back to 1989, and is loved by its fans for its highly readable code. Many programmers suggest it's the easiest language to get started with.
PHP: This language for programming web sites is incredibly common -- some estimates say it powers one-third of the web. Big sites like WordPress, Facebook, and Yahoo use it. A lot of programmers also hate PHP with a passion -- Stack Exchange founder Jeff Atwood once wrote 'PHP isn't so much a language as a random collection of arbitrary stuff, a virtual explosion at the keyword and function factory.'
Visual Basic: Microsoft's Visual Basic (and its successor, Visual Basic .NET) tries to make programming easier with a graphical element that lets you change portions of a program by dragging and dropping. It's old, and some think it's lacking features next to other languages, but with Microsoft's backing, it's still got its users out there.
Assembly Language: First invented in 1949, Assembly is the absolute lowest-level way of talking to a computer's processor. For a long time, programmers would learn Assembly in computer science classes, and then never use it again. But it's handy for building efficient software to run on low-powered machines like smart appliances and wearable computers, so its time has come again.
Ruby: Like Python, developers like this 24-year-old language because it's easy to read and write the code. Also popular is Rails, an add-on framework for Ruby that makes it really easy to use it to build web apps. The language's official motto is 'A programmer's best friend.'
Perl: Originally developed by a NASA engineer in the late eighties, Perl excels at processing text, and developers like it because it's powerful and flexible. It was once famously described as 'the duct tape of the web,' because it's really great at holding websites together, but it's not the most elegant language.
Delphi Object Pascal: Originally developed at Apple in 1986 and named because it helped programmers connect to Oracle databases (as in, 'The Oracle at Delphi'), Delphi is seeing its star rise once again as an alternative for building smartphone apps.
Swift: While Apple's issues with Taylor Swift may have made all the headlines last year, the Apple Swift programming language was winning over developers as a faster, easier way to build iPhone apps. With high-profile fans like IBM, expect it to take off even more in 2016.
Pascal: Named for famed philosopher Blaise Pascal, this language was instrumental in the coding of the original Apple Macintosh computers. There are plenty of Pascal-based systems still out there today.
Groovy: This offshoot of Java has surged in popularity since its 2007 inception, designed to make it easier and faster to write lots of code. And since Groovy integrates just fine with Java code, it's won over developers at big companies like IBM, Google, and Target.
Objective-C: The original C programming language was so influential that it inspired a lot of similarly named successors, all of which took their inspiration from the original but added features from other languages. It's still more popular than Apple's homegrown Swift language, but Swift is gaining fast.
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