The Most Widely Used Programming Language At Any Level

The content of this page was moved from TheMostWidelyUsedLanguageAtAnyLevel? 2003-06-21
Someone decided to start this one over. That probably was a good idea generally, given the level of emotion growing.
I found a "distribution of development languages" survey embedded inside this presentation: The source of the survey is "Soundview/Financial Group, 10/97". Numbers were given for 1997, with projections to 1999. The 1997 numbers were: Disclaimer -- the methodology of the survey is unknown, so take the numbers with due skepticism. -- StuCharlton
Let's do a new survey...

this has already been done with VoteOnProgrammingLanguages

That is favorites, not usage. We often don't have much of a choice.
This is just a reminder that the title contains more than one question. "Most widely used" can be interpreted as referring to: I would be surprised if all these questions had the same answer. -- FalkBruegmann

It appears (after reading some computer magazines) that the following five languages are currently the Biggest in media awareness: Please comment. Is the order correct? Is some obvious language missing? Why aren't they all promoting MlLanguage?

LarryWall ( mentions a study of jobs posted on Dice ( by TedShieh?. On August 23rd, 1999 the growth over the last six months indicated an order of: Programming Languages: The Internet's Current Opinion ( works along the same lines as the Operating System Sucks-Rules-O-Meter (
MicrosoftExcel is not really a language, is it? Don't all Microsoft products have VisualBasic as their scripting language?

See MicrosoftExcelProgrammingLanguage.
PostScript is also quite popular, although many people use a code generation tool for it, such as MicrosoftWord. ;-)
The Intel x86 instruction set may be the programming language most widely used at any level.

See MachineProgrammingLanguage
The ARM processor core may be competing here now. It's used in most mobile telephones, and they might now outnumber television remote controls.

Nah. People who don't have cell phones surely have TVs. And anyway, MCS-51s are used in millions of cars, microwave ovens, wall thermostats, and zillions of other applications. Use your imagination. Anywhere you can replace $5 worth of electronics with a $2 processor it's been done with an 8051.

Yes. In particular, you almost certainly have an 8051 variant living inside your computer keyboard, translating button presses to serial scan codes. Once upon a time, it was almost always an 8048.

While I like the 32-bit ARM processor, less than 10% of all the CPUs sold in the world are 32-bit or more. 55% are 8-bit. (See

These stats are from 2002; anyone have more recent stats? I'd also be curious to know how that 55% number divides into Microchip PIC, Atmel AVR, (formerly Intel) 8051, and FreeScale? (formerly Motorola) 6800 families. And any others I missed.

-- DavidCary

I see that WardCunningham used an Atmel AVR

Yeah -- an AtTiny12, at that! Talk about brain dead! Hardly any horsepower there at all. 32 bytes of RAM?!? Enough for the task, though.

Check out my robotic flag waver.

What?!? You wasted two perfectly good S133s on that...that...that art?!? Heathen!
See: ProgrammingLanguageUsageStatistics


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