Two Programming Languages From the 1950s Are Once Again Among the World’s Most Popular

Fortran and COBOL play a key role in the modern, digitized world we live in.

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The programming world is constantly evolving, so many professionals make it a priority to stay updated with the latest changes. Understanding the most popular languages can help them grasp industry trends and obtain new job opportunities.

The TIOBE Index, ranking that measures the most popular programming languages, is one of the best resources in this regard. The ranking, updated monthly, often features languages like Python, C, and Java in its top positions. However, the latest update has surprised the programming community.

Fortran and COBOL Are Back in Fashion

In May 2024, the legendary Fortran and COBOL languages made it into the ranking's top 20 programming languages. This is a significant achievement for tools that originated in the 1950s during the era of punched cards. While we knew that these languages were crucial for many sectors, we didn’t anticipate this recent boom in popularity.

Python tops the latest TIOBE ranking, followed by C and C++. Fortran, released in 1956 for the IBM 704 computer, appears in 10th place. COBOL, from 1960, is in the 20th position. But why are these languages still so relevant almost 70 years after their initial release? We have some clues.

Programming C

TIOBE Software CEO Paul Jansen highlights the “resurgence” of Fortran, attributing it to the importance of numerical computing. The language, originally developed at IBM, boasts several characteristics that outshine those of more modern alternatives, including its maturity and cost-effectiveness.

Programming 2

According to Jansen, MATLAB is easy to use for numerical computation, but its licenses are too expensive. For its part, the Julia programming language seems promising but still needs time to mature. Moreover, the TIOBE Software CEO believes Fortran is essential for scientific research.

COBOL, another key player in the TIOBE ranking, has become an essential programming language for sectors like banking and healthcare. In fact, many companies that rely on these systems need COBOL experts to support them.

Image | Max Duzij via Unsplash | TIOBE Index screenshot

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