The word “popular” indicates that there is enough choice from which someone can choose a favorite, but the world of programming languages did not look like this in the ‘ 80 ‘.
There was not much choice; Many companies took advantage of mainframes and COBOL was the absolute king.
Later, when the home computer rolled up, home-garden-and-kitchen programmers started working with BASIC and Pascal.
There were quite a few computers in that time:
I myself have worked with DEC, Philips and especially with great pleasure with the Burroughs B7700
Languages were also:
The period from the 1960s to the late 1970s brought the development of the major language paradigms now in use:
- APLintroduced array programmingand influenced functional programming. [37
- AlgolRefined both structured procedural programmingand the discipline of language Specification; The “Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language Algol 60” became a model for how later Language specifications were written.
- Lisp, implemented in 1958, was the first dynamically typed functional programminglanguage.
- In the 1960s, Simulawas the first language designed to support object-oriented programming; In the mid-1970s, Smalltalkfollowed with the first “purely” object-oriented language.
- Cwas developed between 1969 and 1973 as a system programming language For the Unixoperating system and remains popular. [38
- Prolog, designed in 1972, was the first logic programminglanguage.
- In 1978, MLbuilt a polymorphic type system on Top of Lisp, pioneering statically typedfunctional programminglanguages.
Each of these languages spawned descendants, and most modern programming languages count at least one of them in their ancestry.
The 1960s and 1970s also saw considerable debate on the merits of structured programming, and whether programming languages should be designed to support it. [39 Edsger Dijkstra, in a famous 1968 letter published In the COMMUNICATIONS of the ACM, argued that GOTOstatements should be eliminated from all “higher level” programming languages. [40
The 1980s were years of relative consolidation.C++Combined object-oriented and systems programming.The United States Government standardized Ada, a systems programming language Derived from Pascaland intended for use by defense contractors.In Japan and elsewhere, vast sums were spent investigating so-called “fifth-generation” languagesthat incorporated logic programming constructs. [41 The functional languages community moved to harmonisation MLand Lisp.Rather than inventing new paradigms, all of these movements elaborated upon the ideas invented in the previous decades.
One important trend in language design for programming large-scale systems during the 1980s was an increased focus on the use of modulesor large-scale organizational units of code.Modula-2, Ada, and ML all developed notable module systems in the 1980s, which were often wedded to generic programmingconstructs. [42
I like those languages Algol, and Pascal the most enjoyable.
Both run through the compiler to make machine language.
A compiler update was made by processing the readable code with the old compiler and then again by having the new code processed.This also included the new optimizations in the new compiler.
The compiler read and study provided the optimization possibilities, if you know that a case always goes through 256 loops it makes sense to use if then else.
And at a time we wrote an edit program that we could use on terminals, instead of punch cards, with search and replace.This allowed us to adjust the hardcoded word lengths relatively quickly and to accommodate larger memory space. Oh Yes and four digit years.
In that time also many personal computers in machine language and basic.StarTrek with Phaser sound.
In short, choice enough
I don’t know if it was the most popular language but I wrote among others in Borland’s Turbo Pascal.
When I studied in the Eighties was the first programming language we got Pascal.Then, C and Fortran followed, and there were modules for Smalltalk, Simula, Prolog and Lisp.