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When Was Python Created: History of Python


When was Python created, and what is this popular program language’s backstory? 


Python is one of the most popular programming languages today. Giant tech companies and small startups alike use Python to build websites, analyze data, and automate tedious tasks. 


Python’s ubiquitous acceptance may lead you to ask, when was Python created? Where did this practical, open-source programming language come from? And how did it get a name like Python? 


If you’re wondering when Python was created, you’re in luck. Below, we discuss the origin of this beginner-friendly programming language and explain why so many still use it today. After reading this article, you’ll be able to explain where Python came from, who created it, and what makes it so unique. 


So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “when was Python created?” Read on. 

You might also like: How Long Does It Take To Learn Python?

Table of Contents

Why was Python named Python?

Python was named after the BBC comedy sketch television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  

When was Python first used?

Python’s first version was released for use in 1991. 

Why is Python so famous?

Python is famous for several reasons, but the biggest is its ease of use. Even beginners can pick up Python quickly, thanks to its simplicity. It’s ease-of-use also allows programmers to create and deploy projects fast. 

quotation marks

Python was named after the BBC comedy sketch television show Monty Python's Flying Circus.

When Was Python Created?

Python’s conception traces back to December 1989, when a computer programmer named Guido van Rossum had a week off of work. His company, Centrum Wiskunde Information (CWI), was closed for the Christmas holiday, leaving van Rossum with lots of extra time. 


Many of us use holidays to escape work’s problems, but van Rossum took the opposite approach. During the break, he put his mind towards solving an issue he had at the office. At the time, his job included working on the Amoeba project. 


The Amoeba project was a microkernel-based distributed system that CWI was developing for system utilities. The job required a lot of coding in C, which was a slow process. Van Rossum was sure there was a better way. 


So, he spent the break revising the ABC programming language to be more readable and clear. The result was the first version of Python, a programming language that allowed programmers to express concepts in fewer lines of code. 


The name Python came from van Rossum’s favorite show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He later said he chose the name because he wanted something punchy, unique, and mysterious– Python fit the bill beautifully. 

when was python created

Having fewer lines of code meant that Python offered: 

  • Better readability

  • Increased designer productivity

  • More clarity 


Van Rossum knew this would make his job easier and had the potential to change coding around the world. 

Python Released To The World

Before releasing Python to coders everywhere, van Rossum went to his manager at CWI. They decided they should release Python as an open-source language. 


Today, releasing a programming language as open-source might sound obvious. Many of the world’s top coding languages are open-source. But that wasn’t so clear in the late eighties and early nineties. So, many applaud van Rossum and his manager for choosing an open-source model, as it allowed Python to become what it is today. 


In February 1991, van Rossum published Python to alt.source, a Usenet group for open-source code. The first version was called Python 0.9.0. Subsequent versions included: 


  • Python 1.0 (1994)

  • Python 2.0 (2000)

  • Python 3.0 (2008) 

  • Python 3.9 (2020)


Each version offered new features and updates, which made Python more usable for software and website developers. 

A Benevolent Dictator For Life

Not long after the release of Python 1.0, Guido van Rossum joined the Corporation for National Research Initiatives. This non-profit focuses on network-based information technologies that work for the public interest. 


There, he led a meeting to discuss the creation of a semi-formal group that would oversee future Python development. In a post-meeting follow-up email, one of the attendees, Ken Manheimer, jokingly named van Rossom “Benevolent Dictator for Life” or BDFL. 


The name stuck. 


Later, the title was given to other open-source software development leaders, signifying their power to provide the final say in disputes or arguments within their programming communities. 


Despite the name, van Rossum stepped down as BDFL for Python in 2018 without appointing a successor. The move eliminated the title within the Python community structure and left core developers to make future decisions.

when was python created

The Python Philosophy

Python’s development team isn’t without some guidance, though, thanks to the enduring philosophy behind Python’s language. The “Zen Of Python” gives 19 guiding principles for writing computer programs using Python. These include norms like: 


  • “Simple is better than complex.”

  • “Sparse is better than dense.”

  • “Readability counts.” 


These principles all speak to Python’s core construction. As far as programming languages go, Python’s language base is compact. But it has a large standard library and extensible interpreter. This combination allows programmers to add interfaces to existing applications. It also avoids the issues van Rossum had with the ABC interface.  

Python Today

With ethics in place that promote simplicity, Python continues to be one of the most beginner-friendly and functional programming languages. Today, it has a large and supportive community and significant corporate backing. Facebook, Amazon Web Services, and Google all support Python programming, making training and support tools easy to obtain. 


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Main Takeaways

So, when was Python created? Technically, it was created in December 1989, but the world didn’t see it until February 1991. 


What started as a simplified language that would make van Rossum’s work easier has become a celebrated and beginner-friendly tool used by programmers worldwide. 


If you’re interested in Python or programming, check out the related content below to learn more.

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