HOPL Links


Family trees are funny things for anything within the history of ideas. The semantic space they map has always got an approximate time-linearity on one axis, but the other axis remains ambiguous. Most of them don't show the nature of the links, and very few reflex the nature of the language as a discourse. The LISP genealogy for HOPL2 is actually the only one that properly matches the complexity - but this was slightly tongue-in-cheek.

My favourites are those localised trees in Baron's "Computer Languages: a guide for the perplexed". I have adopted her approach and used local ones as well.

  • Éric Lévénez has drawn an elegant longitudinal graph (time on the X axis) which is very easy to read.
  • Pixel's 2 trees - shows logic and functional languages as well as imperative. He has two, one simplified featuring "major languages", the other with 150 (but mostly dialects for the added complexity)
  • LISP from HOPL II PDF file showing the LISP history in exacting detail. From Steele, Jr., G. L. and R. P. Gabriel: 1996, `The Evolution of LISP'. In HOPL II (see below)
  • A genealogy from an extended article on Zuse.
  • Gary T. Leavens's genealogical diagram from a course in 1997.


There are lists aplenty about on the net, but I found many of them to be unsourced and contradictory. A lot of people have taken the standard list started by Bill Kinnersley and continued by various people, and largely incorporated into FOLDOC. The list is particularly difficult to use when it comes to the earlier languages, and many versions of it exist solely to drag the viewer to a commercial site.

Buying books

I have set up links direct to the Various Amazon stores to enable such books as are in print to be easily bought.
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