MetaCard Corporation

A brief introduction to language levels

The productivity of a language is highly correlated with its level. As levels increase, the number of statements required to accomplish a particular task generally decreases.
  • The first generation was machine code, a binary, octal (base 8), or hexadecimal (base 16) representation of machine words
  • The second generation was assembly language, simple mnemonics for machine code
  • Third generation includes most compiled languages, including older ones such as Pascal, Fortran, C, BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), and COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language), but also includes newer derivatives like C++ and Java
  • Fourth generation languages are the proprietary languages used to develop database applications
  • Scripting languages, like MetaTalk, Perl, ksh, Tcl, and Python, are most similar to 4GLs, but generally are even higher level and were designed to be general purpose tools rather than specifically for dealing with databases