Believe it or not, computers use languages to communicate with us and with one another just like humans do. While it might not look or sound even remotely similar to language as we know it, the concepts remain the same: computer languages allow the technology to send and receive important instructions that in turn make the computer work as it’s supposed to. 

Object-oriented language (OOL) is one of many such examples. But what is the specific function of the OOL programming language? What are its unique features and concepts? And what’s the meaning behind programming with OOL? Let’s discuss all there is to know about OOL below.

Quick Facts

Creator (person)
Alan Kay & others
Original Price
$99
Operating System
Object-oriented language
Developed By (company)
Learning Research Group (LRG) of Xerox PARC

Three Facts about Object-Oriented Language

  • OOL is often referred to by another name: Object-oriented programming (OOP). While the names are different, the function of the two remains identical. 
  • Some of the most recognizable and widely-used programming languages are OOL: Python, C++, Java, Lisp, Perl, and many others. 
  • In programming languages like OOL, data in fields is typically referred to as attributes or properties, while code in procedures is typically called methods.

What Is Object-Oriented Language?: Explained

Whether it be Python, C++, Java, Lisp, Perl, or one of the many other popular OOL programs, object-oriented language is based on the concepts of “objects.” While it might sound obvious based on the name, it’s an important distinction to underline.  In computer programs designed with OOL, objects are made to interact with each other. The titular objects can be anything from variables to functions to data structures to methods — the only stipulation is that they must contain data or code in order to be considered an object. Beyond the data or code, objects must also be linked to procedures or methods that can edit or modify the data fields of the object. 

From Python to Lisp, C++ to Perl, Java to PHP, and everything in between, OOL languages can be incredibly diverse. However, the most popular types of OOL are class-based (meaning that each object has a class that determines its type). This differs from other forms of OOL, which determine these things based on individual objects. Key concepts include inheritance, polymorphism, data hiding, and encapsulation. These features set OOL apart from other programming languages, many of which — such as BASIC, COBOL, and others — have added OOL features for compatibility purposes.

Before OOL, the consensus was that a final result could only be achieved through the manipulation of data and that a program was merely a sequence of manipulations. With OOL, a program was now seen as a group of objects that respond to a user, a program, or an object’s messages. This paved the way for OOL’s event-driven programming —  meaning when event A occurs, action B is performed by the object. 

object oriented programming
OOL and OOP are used interchangeably.

How to Use Object-Oriented Language

Now that the basics of OOL have been explained, it’s worth providing a simple tutorial on how to use it. This tutorial will go over the most general concepts, but rest assured: OOL has many other (and far more advanced) capabilities than the ones explained in this tutorial.

Object-oriented language as a concept is all about creating a system model as a collection of objects. Each of these objects stands for a specific component of the system model. Objects act as an interface for any code that wishes to make use of it. Underneath, the object still has its own private functions. For this reason, the system can operate without having to be concerned about what’s going on inside the object.

With this in mind, let’s discuss how to use OOL. 

  • First, model your problem in relation to its objects. OOL requires you to establish abstract definitions that stand for the different objects within your system. For instance, if you wanted to model a workplace, each object might represent an employee. Each employee shares some things in common: everyone has a name, everyone has a job to do, everyone can operate the cash register, and everyone can greet customers when they enter the store. In this example, the system’s class is “employee,” its properties are “employee name” and “employee job,” and its methods are “operating cash register” and “greeting customers.” 
  • Next, you need to establish a constructor and create more than one employee. Without multiple classes, you won’t have a program. You can establish a constructor by designating one of the objects as the constructor.
  • After that, your program needs a hierarchy — commonly called inheritance. Sticking with the store example, a “customer” would have fewer methods than an “employee.” This is because a customer cannot do all that an employee does, such as operating the cash register. 
  • Once this is established, you can include private information within each method — this is encapsulation. This is reserved for information that is not relevant to the other classes, but still relevant to an individual class. In the store example, this would be something like “give a raise” to an employee who has been working for more than 180 days.

How To Learn Object-Oriented Language

If you’re interested in taking the above how-to further and wish to learn the intricate specifics of OOL, there are a few steps you need to take. First and foremost, you need to learn the basics of the programming language you wish to use. Whether it be Python, C++, Java, Lisp, Perl, or any of the other OOL programs, you must learn the key terms and rules of your preferred OOL. 

After that, study up on the fundamentals of OOL. Get a firm grasp on class, object, modifiers, and so on. Consider taking a class — either online or at a local college — to learn all there is to know about each and every intricate detail of this programming language. There are many online crash courses that are free to view, and these will help you comprehend OOL concepts like encapsulation, inheritance, polymorphism, and more.

Some find that it’s easiest to learn OOL by simply diving in and giving it a shot with hands-on experience. For this purpose, it’s worth using the one that started it all: Smalltalk. As the first and foremost OOL, many beginners feel that it’s the simplest and easiest to learn. From there, you can take the skills you’ve learned and apply them to your particular programming language of choice.

The Difference Between Object-Oriented Language vs Object-Based Language

The object-oriented language sounds a lot like another programming language: OBL, or object-based language. What’s the difference between the two? It all comes down to two things: despite the similar names, OBL doesn’t abide by inheritance, polymorphism, and other key OOL concepts. In other words, OOLs don’t have the kind of inbuilt objects found with OBLs.

Object-Oriented Language Release History

The object-oriented language was introduced with the release of the Smalltalk language in 1972. When development began in 1969, the Learning Research Group (or LRG) of Xerox PARC set out to create a programming language that promoted symbiosis between humans and computers. The design and creation of Smalltalk were rooted in education — constructionist learning, to be specific. Smalltalk went through several iterations throughout the remainder of the 1970s, eventually paving the way toward Smalltalk-80: the first publicly available Smalltalk variant and one of the most beloved programming languages ever made. 

What set Smalltalk — and OOL programming in general — apart from its predecessors such as assembly and structured languages is this: rather than focusing on separate program and data structures, the two are brought together under one umbrella called an object. While Smalltalk-80 was the public’s first experience with OOL, the programming language has taken on many different forms in the decades since then: C++ came in 1985, Python came in 1991, Java came in 1995, and so on.

What is an OOL (Object-Oriented Language), with Examples? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When did object-oriented language come out?

While OOL had been in development since 1967, object-oriented language officially came out to the general public with the release of Smalltalk-80 in 1980.

What was the original price of object-oriented language?

Smalltalk-80 went for around $99 in the 1980s, which would be just above $250 in today’s cash.

What is an object-oriented language?

An object-oriented language (or OOL) is a computer programming language that organizes its software around objects (or data) rather than logic or functions.

In an object-oriented programming language, what does an object represent?

In OOL, an object represents data and code. Data is represented in fields, while code is represented by procedures.

What's the difference between object-oriented language and non-object-oriented language?

A non-object-oriented language is any programming language that does not support objects. This is what all the earliest programming languages were. For instance, C is non-OOL, but C++ is OOL.

What are all of the object-oriented languages?

While the list of all OOLs goes on and on, the most popular ones are Python, C++, Java, Lisp, Perl, and Smalltalk.

  • Available here: http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~ram/pub/pub_jf47ht81Ht/doc_kay_oop_en
  • Available here: https://www.csail.mit.edu/about/mission-history?id=19&query=event
  • Available here: https://web.archive.org/web/20080710144930/http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/EarlyHistoryST.html
  • Available here: https://archive.org/details/objectorientedso00jaco/page/43/mode/2up