must read Google CEO Sundar Pichai: This is why AI must be regulated

Programming language of 2019? Python beaten by trusty old C

Up and coming developers can do themselves a favor by learning the programming language C.

Programming languages: Python is now more popular than Java

Programming language C might be 48 years old, but it's still hugely relevant for developers today and, by one measure, still more popular than Python. 

That's according to Tiobe's January 2020 language popularity index. Tiobe, which bases its rankings on queries on major search engines, awarded C the programming language of 2019 title because it saw an increase of 2.4% in queries over the past year, which was greater than C#'s 2.1% and Python's 1.4%. 

While machine learning and data science have propelled Python to new heights in 2019, Tiobe attributes C's continued popularity to the Internet of Things and the ton of smart devices being released these days.

SEE: Six in-demand programming languages: Getting started (free PDF)

"C excels when it is applied to small devices that are performance-critical. It is easy to learn, and there is a C compiler available for every processor," write Tiobe analysts. 

C is currently the second most popular language, according to the Tiobe January 2020 index, behind Java and ahead of Python. 

C ranked first in March 2015 but it has hasn't dropped below second spot since 2001. C was ranked by IEEE Spectrum as the third most popular language in 2019, behind leader Python and Java. 

The C language was created by tech pioneer Dennis Ritchie in the 1970s while at Bell Labs. He's also credited as the co-creator of Unix along with Ken Thompson. 

These days C is used in the development of operating systems, embedded systems, and applications. It's considered the first modern and portable programming language, having been ported to almost every systems architecture and operating system.   

Such was the importance of Ritche's contributions to tech and programming that ZDNet's Jason Perlow has argued there would be no Steve Jobs without Dennis Ritchie, who died in the same week as Jobs in 2011. 

C was the foundation of Objective-C, which was core to Apple's Mac OS X, and Microsoft created C# as its own derivative of C. 

SEE: Microsoft: We're creating a new Rust-like programming language for secure coding

Tiobe's other noted movers and shakers of 2019 were Swift, which rose from 15th position to 9th, and Ruby, which hopped from 18th to number 11. 

Tiobe's top 10 languages in descending order are Java, C, Python, C++, C#, Visual Basic .NET, JavaScript, PHP, Swift, and SQL.  

C, currently the second most popular language, ranked first in March 2015 but it has hasn't dropped below second spot since 2001.

Image: Tiobe

 More on Python and programming languages

  • Programming language Python 2.7 code is now frozen: Last release coming in April  
  • Netflix: Our Metaflow Python library for faster data science is now open source  
  • Microsoft: We're creating a new Rust-like programming language for secure coding  
  • Tech jobs: Python programming language and AWS skills demand has exploded  
  • Programming language Python 2's end looms, so why will many miss the deadline? 
  • Google: As Go programming language turns 10, here are the big names using it
  • Python programming language creator retires, saying: 'It's been an amazing ride'
  • Programming languages: How Instagram's taming a multimillion-line Python monster
  • Salesforce: Why we ditched Python for Google's Go language in Einstein Analytics  
  • Python-inspired Nim: Version 1.0 of the programming language launches
  • Google: Take our free Kotlin programming language courses to build Android apps
  • Microsoft: We want you to learn Python programming language for free
  • Google: Dart 2.5 programming language SDK will 'supercharge' developers
  • Raspberry Pi gets MIT's Scratch 3 programming language for Raspbian
  • Julia programming language: Users reveal what they love and hate the most about it
  • Is Julia fastest-growing new programming language? Stats chart rapid rise in 2018
  • Python vs R for data science: Professor rates programming language rivals
  • Programming languages: Python predicted to overtake C and Java in next 4 years 
  • Netflix: Python programming language is behind every film you stream
  • JPMorgan's Athena has 35 million lines of Python code, and won't be updated to Python 3 in time TechRepublic
  • Mozilla's radical open-source move helped rewrite rules of tech CNET
  • Visit ZDNET