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What is 'Python'?

Python is an advanced scripting language that was invented around 1990 by Guido van Rossum. As a general-purpose language, Python has found many uses, including graphical applications, movie animation, automated testing and web scripting.

Python gets its name from the British TV comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Guido van Rossum is a fan. Guido and some other key Python developers are currently employed to do Python development by a company called Digital Creations, based in Virginia. Digital Creations is home to the Python-based Zope web application toolkit.

Some of the main features of Python as a programming language are that it:

  • needs no explicit compile-and-link task, leading to tighter and faster source code development cycles
  • employs automatic garbage collection
  • uses an object-based approach, which facilitates reuse
  • provides for dynamic reloading of modules
  • provides for runtime introspection of objects
  • supports standard Internet protocols
  • is open source

Here is a taster of Python programming to whet your appetite. It shows a Person class with two subclasses, Man and Woman.

class Person:
    def __init__(self, newName): = newName        

class Man(Person):
    sex = 'M'
    def __init__(self, newName): = newName

class Woman(Person):
    sex = 'F'
    def __init__(self, newName): = newName

You can create an instance of a class as follows, and inspect its attributes:

>>> w=Woman('Agnetha')
('Agnetha', 'F')

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