TLDR: ALGOL is a family of programming languages that was developed in the late 1950s. It heavily influenced many other languages and was widely used for algorithm description for over 30 years. ALGOL introduced important concepts like code blocks and nested function definitions, and it also gave attention to formal language definition.
ALGOL, short for "Algorithmic Language," is a family of imperative computer programming languages that was developed in 1958. It had a significant impact on the development of programming languages and was widely used for describing algorithms in textbooks and academic sources for more than three decades.
One of the reasons ALGOL was so influential is that many modern programming languages have a syntax that is similar to ALGOL. It was designed to address some of the perceived issues with other languages like FORTRAN and became the basis for the development of many other programming languages, including PL/I, Simula, BCPL, Pascal, and C.
ALGOL introduced several important features to programming languages. It introduced the concept of code blocks, which are sections of code that are grouped together and can be executed as a single unit. It also introduced nested function definitions, which allow functions to be defined inside other functions. This concept is now widely used in many programming languages.
Additionally, ALGOL was the first programming language to give detailed attention to formal language definition. It introduced the Backus-Naur form, a notation for describing the syntax of programming languages. This notation is still used today in the design of programming languages.
There were three major versions of ALGOL: ALGOL 58, ALGOL 60, and ALGOL 68. ALGOL 60 was the most widely used version and had the most significant impact on future language development. ALGOL 68 introduced new elements and features, but it was not as well received as ALGOL 60.
ALGOL was developed by a committee of European and American computer scientists in a meeting in 1958. It was used primarily by research computer scientists in the United States and Europe. Its use in commercial applications was limited due to the lack of standard input/output facilities and the lack of interest from large computer vendors.
ALGOL's influence can still be seen today in many programming languages. It laid the foundation for the development of modern programming languages and introduced important concepts that are still used today.