Selecting a Programming Language

With such a large selection of programming languages it can be difficult to choose one for a particular project. Reading manuals to evaluate the languages is a time consuming process. on the other hand, most people have a fairly good idea of how various automobiles compare. So in order to assist those trying to choose a language, we have prepared a chart that matches programming languages with comparable automobiles.

Assembler A Formula I race car.
Very fast, but difficult to drive and expensive to maintain.
FORTRAN II A Model T Ford. Once, it was king of the road.
FORTRAN IV A Model A Ford.
Fortran 77 A Six-cylinder Ford Fairlane
with standard transmission and no seat belts.
COBOL A delivery van.
It's bulky and ugly, but it does the work.
BASIC second-hand Rambler with a rebuilt engine and patched upho,stery.
Your dad bought it for you to learn how to drive. You'll ditch the car as soon as you can afford a new one.
PL/I A Cadillac convertible with automatic transmission, a two-tone paint job, chrome exhaust pipes, and fuzzy dice hanging in the windshield.
C A black Firebird, the all-macho car. Comes with optional seat belts (lint) and optional fuzz-buster (escape to assembler).
ALGOL 60 An Austin Mini. Boy, that's a small car!
Pascal A Volkswagen Beetle It's small but sturdy. Was once popular with intellectuals.
Modula II A Volkswagen Beetle with a trailer hitch.
ALGOL 68 An Aston Martin An impressive car, but not just anyone can drive it.
LISP An electric car. It's simple but slow. Seat belts are not available.
PROLOG / LUCID Prototype concept-cars.
Maple / MACSYMA All-terrain vehicles.
FORTH A go-cart.
LOGO A kiddie's replica of a Rolls Royce. Comes with a real engine and working horn.
APL A double-decker bus. It takes rows and columns of passengers to the same place all at the same time. But it drives only in reverse gear, and is instrumented only in Greek.
Ada An army-green Mercedes-Benz staff car. Power steering, power brakes, and automatic transmission are all standard. No other colors or options are available. (If it's good enough for the Generals, it's good enough for you.) Manufacturing delays due to difficulties reading the design specifications are starting to clear up. Comes with a real engine and working horn.

Reprinted from SIGPLAN Notices.
Original article was written by Daniel Saloman & David Rosenbleuth
(University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)

(Yes, this decades-old piece needs updating. All contributions are welcome (especially for Fortran 90 and C++).
Copyright by Bruce A. Martin/ABCD unlimited. All rights reserved!
Back to home page