What problem gave birth to programming languages?
Before high level programming languages existed, computers were programmed
one instruction at a time using binary or hex. This was a tedious job and
there were a lot of errors. Programs were difficult to read, and modification
was extremely difficult because all programs had to be written using absolute
addressing. Obviously, this job did not attract many people, so there was
a shortage of programmers. Expensive computers sat idle for long periods
of time while software was being developed. Software often cost two to
four times as much as the computer. This led to the development of assemblers
and assembly languages. Programming became somewhat easier, but many users
still wanted floating point numbers and array indexing. Since these capabilities
were not supported in hardware, high level languages had to be developed
to support them.
Sources: "Concepts of Programming Languages" by Robert W. Sebesta,
Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc, 1993^
Video, "The Machine that Changed the World", PBS