The Python Programming Language

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History | Significant Language Features | Areas of Application | Sample Programs
Related Links | Printed References | Acknowledgements


Python is a very new language; in fact it was released by its designer, Guido Van Rossum, in February 1991 while working for CWI also known as Stichting Mathematisch Centrum. Many of Python's features originated from an interpreted language called ABC. Rossum wanted to correct some of ABC's problems and keep some of its features. At the time he was working on the Amoeba distributed operating system group and was looking for a scripting language with a syntax like ABC but with the access to the Amoeba system calls, so he decided to create a language that was generally extensible. Since he had some experience with using Modula-2+, he decided to talk with the designers of Modula-3. Modula-3 is the origin of the syntax and semantics used for exceptions, and some other Python features. In 1989, during the Christmas holidays, he decided to give it a try and design a language which he later called Python.

Just in case you're wondering how the language got its name, well it's not from those dangerous reptiles. Python actually got is name from a BBC comedy series from the seventies "Monty Python's Flying Circus". The designer needed a name that was short, unique, and slightly mysterious. Since he was a fan of the show he thought this name was great.

Significant Language Features

Python is an interpreted, interactive, object-oriented programming language. It incorporates modules, exceptions, dynamic typing, very high level dynamic data types, and classes. Python combines remarkable power with very clear syntax. It has interfaces to many system calls and libraries, as well as to various window systems, and is extensible in C or C++. It is also usable as en extension language for applications that need programming interfaces. Finally, Python is portable across all major hardware and software platforms.

Areas of Application

Python is ideally suited for rapid prototyping of complex applications. It is also used as a "glue language" for connecting up the obvious pieces of a complex solution, such as Web pages, databases, and Internet sockets.

Sample Programs

Related Links

Printed References

  1. Lutz, Mark (1996). Programming Python. O'Reilly & Associates.
  2. Watters, Aaron, and Van Rossum, Guido, and Ahlstrom, James C. (1996). Internet Programming with Python. M & T Books.


Special thanks to
The Python Language Home Page for providing a great deal of information about Python.
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Last modified: 5:00 PM on 12/09/1997
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