Originally posted by Bert Bates: I meant the first programming language a programmer learned
Commodore BASIC v2, on the Commodore 64, when I was 13.
After that 6502 assembly language (also on the C64), C, Pascal, C++. The first year at university we had a course in Scheme. The first programming language I used on my job was C, later C++, and Java since about 1999.
Java didn't exist when I started programming, and when I was in school.
The answer depends greatly on the age of the developer, and when he or she was in school.
I started programming just a few years ago for my diploma with little bit of JAVA and VB. In university most subjects were based on Java examples and some were C and C++. But now I couldn't get away from JAVA
LOL - well, I'll try to get everyone back on target for you Bert. In terms of what are the most common first languages today in 2008... of the co-ops we interview, C++ and Java are the two most common languages by far. It depends mostly on which college/university they went to. I think Java is starting to win out in terms of popularity. It's hard to say if those are the first languages the students were ever exposed to. I think for some, PHP may be the first computer programming some of them did, given its rise in usage for everyday web sites.
For non comp sci majors (i.e. MIS, IT, etc), it's not uncommon to see VB - *shudder*.
I learned LOGO and then BASIC back in the year 1994. And after around 11 years in the year 2005 I learned Java in my graduation degree. For the students here in India,Java is now taught in their 9th year of schooling which is just one year before the student passes her first boundary of schooling i.e Board exams. Schools are now teaching Object Oriented Programming as the base programming language. So I think back here in India Java is becoming the first language for students,very rapidly.
And no, C is definitely not the first language everybody learns. Some people may start with C, but definitely not everybody. And I agree with those who don't. C, with its pointers and all, is not the easiest place to start. In fact, it's one of the hardest languages I've worked with, and that list is not small.
Beginners do well to start with an easier language, and Basic and PHP are quite easy. Others like Java and C# remove the necessity of taking care of your own memory management, so that's also nice for beginners.
After a while I would encourage programmers to at least be able to read C in its full complexity, but only after the basics are already well-known.
Being a mere teenager, I haven't had all that much time to learn languages, but my first language was BASIC. Got bored after that and picked up Java. After about a year of that I went on and learned (and am still learning due to my tendency to constantly drift back to my beloved Java, even though I'm still learning Java ) C++, RGSS/Ruby, Python, C, C#, and Lua. I figure the more I know, the more likely it is I'll get a job some day. I consider Java to be my first language, but I think other likely candidates for common first languages would be BASIC, Python, and C.