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A Brief History of Open-Source Code [Infographic]

Beutler_Kinvey_ProgramLang_TeaserV3-01Ask a group of developers what their coding languages of choice are, and you’re bound to receive a wide range of answers. C. C#. Javascript. CSS. Python. Wider still would be the range of languages that developers actually use on a regular basis, whether or not it is their top pick.

When reflecting on the programming languages used today, we got to thinking: What does the rise and fall of languages actually *look* like? Surely, they haven’t all existed since the beginning of computer programming — just as many of today’s languages will be long forgotten by future generations. How quickly did top languages rise in popularity? How slowly did they decline? What languages spawned other languages? These questions intrigued us, and we felt that developers might find the answers to be enlightening. So we sought to answer these questions … visually.


With the help of our friends at Beutler Ink, we pooled data from, owned by Black Duck Software, which indexes hundreds of thousands of open source projects and counts billions of lines of code. From this research, we were able to visualize the percentage of total commits in a given quarter for the top 16 programming languages from 1993 until today. We hope you’ll find this image — a provocative pattern of dips and spikes — to be as interesting as we do. It truly shows how dynamic the world of programming is. We’ve also included a few graphs on other interesting data points: total number of languages by year, average lines of code per commit, and tracking which languages influenced the development of others.

  • The 16 languages represented account for 90% of total commits (tweet this)
  • Java was the top language of Q1 2013 (tweet this)
  • C influenced the development of C++, Perl, Javascript and Python (tweet this)
  • The top 3 languages in Q1 1993 were C, Emacs Lisp, and Make (tweet this)

If you’d like to embed this graphic on your own site or blog, here’s the embed code:

What did you find most surprising about this infographic? What else might you like to know about open source programming languages and their popularity?

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