Python: From a Playful Project to the Most Popular Programming Language in the World
6 min readNov 08, 2021.
Did you know that Python started out as a hobby project and was named after Monty Python? Yes, the Monty Python. One of the developers’ aims was to make it fun to use, so they decided to pay homage to the British comedy group. The tutorials and reference materials also sometimes feature references to Monty Python sketches and are occasionally playfully written.
The programming language was developed by Guido van Rossum of Python Software Foundation as the lead designer and was first released in 1991 (version 0.9.0).
Fast forward 30 years later, and it’s currently the most popular programming language in the world, according to the number of projects on GitHub. It overtook C and Java who held the top spots for a while. Additionally, it’s been consistently near the very top of the most desirable technologies. It’s a robust and relatively easy-to-learn programming language that’s become famous because of its simplified syntax.
A Brief History of Python
As we mentioned, it was first released in 1991. Its development started in the late 1980s, and it was meant to be simple, readable, and allow programmers to express complex concepts in fewer lines of code. At this early stage of development, it could handle classes with inheritance, functions, exceptions, and several core datatypes (list, dict, str, etc.).
During its development, Python kept acquiring new features. When version 1.0 was released, it included map, lambda, reduce, and filter tools. By the time version 1.4 came along, it was equipped with Modula-3 inspired keyword arguments and built-in support for complex numbers.
Its next major iteration came in 2000 when Python 2.0 was released. It included list comprehensions and a garbage collector that could collect garbage cycles. This version of Python continued to develop, including features like the “with” statement and unifying all of Python’s types and classes into one hierarchy. The final iteration of Python 2.x is 2.7, and the development and supports stopped in early 2020.
Python 3.0 was released in 2008 and it was designed to correct the fundamental flaws of the language. As it underwent some major changes, it’s not backward compatible with the 2.x version. This iteration of the programming language emphasized the removal of duplicative constructs and modules. The guiding philosophy was, “there should be one — and preferably only one — obvious way to do something.” The current version is 3.10.0, released in October 2021.
What is Python Used for?
Python is mainly an object-oriented language. If you put your mind to it you can do practically anything with it. Its main uses are in data science, AI, software development, workflow automation, and the development of robots and embedded systems.
Python and Data Science
This programming language is incredibly important in the field of data science. It has become popular because of its readability and flexibility. Additionally, it includes tools for machine learning, scientific computing, data visualization and analysis, and artificial intelligence. Python is also excellent for mining, collating, and manipulating data.
And let’s not forget, Google was made using Python. Its flexibility, scalability, and excellent performance, made it perfect for administration tools and many Google App Engines apps.
Python and Software Development
This is one of the most in-demand fields for Python. There are plenty of libraries and frameworks to use, and the community has already compiled a ton of useful guides. It can be used for anything from web and GUI development to game development.
The MMO giant EVE online was built with Python as were earlier entries in Sid Meier’s Civilization series.
Python and Workflow Automation
One of the best things about Python is that it can help you automate a lot of boring and repetitive tasks in your workflow. You can use it to manage DevOps operations, build a Python development environment, test your software, handle deployment and packaging, and so on.
Python and Robots and Embedded Systems
If you’re interested in writing code that controls how hardware works, then Python is the programming language for you! It has found applications in home automation, Internet of Things, robotics, and self-driving cars.
The best way to start learning how to create hardware-related projects with Python is to take a look at the Raspberry Pi. You can use it to learn how to set up a device with Python, read input from sensors, send signals to other components, and much more.
Who Uses Python?
The better question is, who doesn’t? Companies of all sizes rely on this programming language to make their operations run smoothly or to develop their products. NASA, Amazon, Alphabet, Pixar, Netflix, Spotify, JP Morgan Chase all use it, and they dominate their respective fields.
We mentioned that Google was written using Python - in fact, one of the engineering mottos of the company is “Python where we can, C++ where we must.” YouTube was built mainly with Python, and so were Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, and countless other websites and services.
Amazon loves it for its data-analysis capabilities that fuel the e-commerce giant’s recommendation engine. Netflix is in a similar situation, as it relies on Python to power its recommendation and analytics engine, allowing the company not only to recommend the right content to the right user but also to predict what future ones may be interested.
Why Learn Python?
To put it simply, because that way, you’ll become a part of a large community and be able to participate in some of the biggest and most fascinating projects in the world. According to TIOBE Index, 11.27% of reported lines of code worldwide were written for Python, so it’s bound to be useful at some point in your career.
Python has a very simple syntax, making it easy to learn. When you pair that with countless learning resources, toolsets, and libraries available, you get a winning combination. To top it off, the biggest names in the tech industry use Python! So if you want to land a job there, knowing their preferred programming language can’t hurt. In addition, knowing Python is one of the most in-demand tech skills for 2021.
If that’s not enough, Python developers are exceptionally well paid around the world. The average salary in the US ranges from $41 to $67 per hour while in Europe, you can expect to be paid anywhere from $21 per hour in Belgium to a whopping $92 in Switzerland.
So, Python is a versatile, easy-to-learn language that’s being used all across the tech and science sectors, and it’s being implemented by some of the biggest companies in the world. Who wouldn't love to be a part of that story.