Ch 1:Lesson 1 Text

Chapter One: Fundamentals of Python

Lesson One: Introduction to Python


Welcome to Python Programming! In this course, you are going to learn how to write computer programs or "code". You know you can write a poem or book report in English, Spanish, French and other languages. In the same way, computer programs can also be written in a variety of languages.

Over time, many computer programming languages have been developed. Some are very popular and widely used in a huge variety of applications. Other languages may be used in a more tightly focused area like web site development, circuit analysis, mathematical simulations or education.

Python logoAs you probably guessed from the course title, you are going to learn Python as a programming language. This language is a very easy to learn and use option for beginning programmers. In this lesson, we'll explore some of the key historical milestones of the Python language.

Why Are We Using Python?

There are many reasons to use the Python language to learn computer programming. Python was created as a simple language that would appeal to all types of people - not just computer nerds! However, in addition to students learning to code, it is used by many companies to complete professional tasks,

3 operating system logosPython is also a cross-platform programming language. This means that it will easily run on multiple platforms like Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. In fact, most Mac OS X and Linux computers will come with a version of Python pre-installed for you. Installing Python on a Windows computer is also a quick and easy process.


Since Python is an "open-source" language, it is free for anyone to download, install and use on any compatible computer.

Finally, Python supports classic computer science concepts like object-oriented programming, data types, functions and decision-making. So, despite the simplicity of the language, you can still learn important and meaningful programming skills. If you decide to continue your programming journey, learning other languages like Java or C# will come easier if you already understand common concepts in Python.

Python Beginnings

The Python programming language was started in 1989 by a Dutch programmer named Guido van Rossum. Here is how he describes the origin of the language, in his own words:

"Over six years ago, in December 1989, I was looking for a "hobby" programming project that would keep me occupied during the week around Christmas. My office (a government-run research lab in Amsterdam) would be closed, but I had a home computer, and not much else on my hands. I decided to write an interpreter for the new scripting language I had been thinking about lately... I chose Python as a working title for the project, being in a slightly irreverent mood (and a big fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus)."

From the forward of "Programming Python" (1st ed.) by Mark Lutz, published by O'Reilly

So, there you have it - a man got bored over Christmas break and created a new programming language! What did you do over your last Christmas break?

You may think "Python" was named after a snake, but the truth is that Guido van Rossom named his new language "Python" after his favorite TV show, "Monty Python's Flying Circus".


Python Versions

As shown in the table below, Python has a long development history, starting in 1989 and followed by major new releases every few years.

December 1989Work started
February, 19910.9 (first public release)
January, 19941.0
October, 20002.0
December, 20083.0


In-between major releases, many minor revisions were published with version numbers like 2.0.1 or 3.6.5. Minor releases were usually made to fix problems or make small enhancements. Python code written for any major release like 2.0 will work on minor releases like 2.0.1.

However, when the major 3.0 release was published, several significant Python language features were changed or simplified. Therefore, code written for Python 3.0 will not run on version 2.0 and vice-versa.

We are going to be using the Python 3 version for this course. That means the code you will learn may not run on a Python 2 system. We will describe several ways to run Python 3 code in the next lesson.

Python Today

Today, Python is maintained by the Python Software Foundation, a non-profit organization created in 2001. You can find news, Python updates, blogs, community events and Python success stories at their main website, linked below.


Work with Me: Explore


With your teacher's permission, use your web browser to visit the main Python website. Click on the link below to get started.

Once you reach the main Python website, click "About" and then "Applications" from the top menu to read about some of the ways Python is used in the real world today.

Learning about Python applications

The Python website may change from time to time as new content is added. If the list of applications has moved, you may need to explore a little bit on your own!

End of Lesson

Last modified: Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 7:46 AM