I'm trying to get Programming Languages Through The Years over on the Code Golf site going again. The Wikipedia article that the challenge has been working from only lists COMIT for 1961, and calling it a "language that first became generally available in 1961" seems to be stretching things a bit.

So, what other languages became available in 1961?

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    Aww, come on isn't that like cheating? But serious, 'general available' is a rather strange term for 1961. That was the time when people used assembly, made up their own languages and more importatn, Software wasn't considered a product back then, merely a tool that was given in addition to the machine and exchanged freely between users.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 9:15
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    I'm interested in this too; as I already cheated by creating a sock-puppet to get around the 5 year rule! How about doing something in machine code for a machine that was introduced in 1961? Just an idea. Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 9:27
  • My Wikipedia says differently.
    – tofro
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 10:32
  • This doesn't fit your category, but it deserves honorable mention. The Harmony Compiler for the PDP-1 was written in 1961. It converted a coded musical score into playable music. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Compiler Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 2:35
  • Also not a programming language, but DDT for the PDP-1 was written in 1961. One of the earliest interactive debuggers. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


So, what other languages became available in 1961?

The first that comes to mind would be COBOL as there was a 1961 definition/version.

But all the way back than it gets hard to tie a language to a certain year, as "Software as a Product" wasn't really a thing - and thus sales dates are rarely available. Similar for release dates, as that was often a gradual process involving user feedback (*1).

Also, if I understand this challenge right, any language available in 1961 will do, wouldn't it? So pick any with some date before 1960 - like COBOL-60 .. ups :))

I'm trying to get Programming Languages Through The Years over on the Code Golf site going again.

I think the 'at least 5 years older' clause makes it hard to come up with more than a few iterations. Trying to eliminate that for anything before, lets say, 1970 could be helpful.

*1 - In fact, what I so much love about today's open source development cycle of putting stuff on Github, having users play with it, supplying comments and patches back into the main branch, is quite much like software development originally worked. The way it always should have been. Now supported by the internet and complex tools instead of sneaker-net and card punches.

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    I think the rules are "was first available in year X" not "available in year X".
    – dave
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 13:42
  • @another-dave which cuts possible attendance even further down. Beside, assuming COBOL today and COBOL-61 as the same language is like saying C++10 is the same as C, isn't it?
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 0:03
  • Per wikipedia, the Burroughs Algol variants of Algol-60 became available 1961. I'd call that a stretch, though. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALGOL#IAL_implementations_timeline Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:17
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    @Raffzahn that was the Main Point of my comment: what is „generally available“ supposed to mean? For code golf, publication is sufficient.
    – tofro
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 11:36
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    I think COBOL counts. The Wikipedia page lists COBOL in 1959, but looking at the more detailed history, all that happened in 1959 was the formation of a committee. The specification was first printed in 1960. It says the first COBOL program ran on August 17, 1960, but I'd assume that was internal to RCA during the development of the compiler. It seems likely that the first release for "general use" was in 1961. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 21:09

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