Dead Programming Languages

Everything has to come to an end, including our planet. Some of these things are very far away, even from the standpoint of the universe, but some are much closer than we want them to be.

In the world of computing, we tend to use various programming languages to tell the machine what it needs to do. Some of these languages are low level and operate closer to the machine, while others are high level languages and require a translator to tell the machine what the syntax means.

Over the course of the last 70 years, many programming languages were invented. Not all of them survived. Here is a list of programming languages that are considered dead.

Objective C

This isn’t really a dead programming language, but given it was primarily used to develop for Apple systems such as the macOS and nowadays iOS, it is slowly becoming irrelevant, that most people won’t bother with it after a while. How does this happen to a language? Easily, Apple created a successor language, called Swift.

True to its name, Swift is an easy to work with programming language, making the process of creating applications for iOS a lot easier. It also works for macOS, though it is mostly used for mobile applications, which comes as no surprise, given the popularity of the market. Due to Objective C being phased out of modern iOS versions, it is going on the forgotten list.

Jason Brennan from Ottawa, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


BASIC is a language which first saw the light of day in 1964, created by Thomas E. Kurtz and John G. Kemeny. This language was the go-to language in the 1970s and 1980s and was slowly being phased out in the 1990s. Microsoft released Visual Basic in the 1990s and that is why the language survived, as well as because of other projects which were dedicated to keeping the language alive. It was phased out because better and easier to understand languages were created, and today, BASIC in its original form is almost never used, albeit, as long as you can find a compiler for the language, you can use it and it’s not really dead.


ALGOL stands for algorithmic language and it was released in 1958. It is the language which inspired other languages such as C, BASIC, B, PL/I, and many more. ALGOL today simply isn’t used, mostly because it wasn’t able to interface with any I/O. It was initially designed to study algorithms and was a scientific language. It didn’t have much practical use and so was left to rot. ALGOL 68 tried to do what previous versions weren’t able to, but was far too different from ALGOL 60 that people moved to the next best thing, Pascal. 

Zvezdica2816, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

No programming language is truly dead, but are just not in use, not in their original form. You could write stuff in these languages if you wanted, though you would need to source a compiler. There are more forgotten languages like ADA, APL, PL/I, COBOL, the list could go on for a while.

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