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Chapter 1. Background and History

History of Python and Comparison with Other Languages

This chapter describes the history of Python in the section called “History”. After that, the section called “Comparisons” is a subjective comparison between Python and a few other other languages, using some quality criteria harvested from two sources: the Java Language Environment White Paper and “On the Design of Programming Languages”. This material can be skipped by newbies: it doesn't help explain Python, it puts it into a context among other programming languages.


Python is a relatively simple programming language that includes a rich set of supporting libraries. This approach keeps the language simple and reliable, while providing specialized feature sets as separate extensions.

Python has an easy-to-use syntax, focused on the programmer who must type in the program, read what was typed, and provide formal documentation for the program. Many languages have syntax focused on developing a simple, fast compiler; but those languages may sacrifice readability and writability. Python strikes a good balance between fast compilation, readability and writability.

Python is implemented in C, and relies on the extensive, well understood, portable C libraries. It fits seamlessly with Unix, Linux and POSIX environments. Since these standard C libraries are widely available for the various MS-Windows variants, and other non-POSIX operating systems, Python runs similarly in all environments.

The Python programming language was created in 1991 by Guido van Rossum based on lessons learned doing language and operating system support. Python is built from concepts in the ABC language and Modula-3. For information ABC, see The ABC Programmer's Handbook [Geurts91], as well as For information on Modula-3, see Modula-3 [Harbison92], as well as

The current Python development is centralized in SourceForge. See and for the latest developments.

  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire