Attack of the one-letter programming languages

From D to R, these lesser-known languages tackle specific problems in ways worthy of a cult following

Attack of the One-Letter Programming Languages
Credit: Shutterstock

Watch out! The coder in the next cubicle has been bitten and infected with a crazy-eyed obsession with a programming language that is not Java and goes by the mysterious name of F. The conference room has become a house of horrors, thanks to command-line zombies likely to ambush you into rewriting the entire stack in M or R or maybe even -- OMG -- K. Be very careful; your coworkers might be among them, calm on the outside but waiting for the right time and secret instructions from the mothership to trash the old code and deploy F# or J.

A long time ago -- long before Netflix, Hulu, and HBO battled for the living room -- people went to the movie theaters for their weekly dose of video streaming. There were usually only two movies, and you couldn't choose the order. (The horror!) The double feature began with the big stars -- the Javas and JavaScripts of the acting world -- but then it got interesting. The second feature, the so-called B movie, was where the new ideas, odder actors, and weirder scripts found their home. Some proved rich enough with exactly the right kind of out-there thinking to garner significant cult followings -- even break through to the mainstream.

The programming languages with one-letter names are one such corner of the Internet. They're all a bit out there, with the possible exception of C -- a language that once received top billing but is now lucky to be opening for the printer-driver convention.

They may not be for every job -- many are aimed at specialized tasks -- but that doesn’t mean these one-letter languages comprise a gallery of misfits. Each offers compelling ideas that could do the trick in solving a particular problem you need fixed. These languages all embody the crisp, simple nature of their names. K?

1 2 Page 1
From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills