A Brief History of Quantum Programming

Ian Hellström | 29 July 2022 | 3 min read

The era of the quantum computer is nigh. Where are we today and how have we arrived here in terms of software for quantum computers?

The field of quantum computing was born in the 1980s thanks to Paul Benioff, Richard Feynman, and David Deutsch, with foundational work tracing back to the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s. Since then quantum computing has progressed from purely speculative to reality. So, how has the ability to simulate and program quantum computers evolved?

Bold entries indicate where you can run code against actual quantum hardware.

It is clear from the timeline that most of the publicly visible activity in software for quantum computers has happened in the last five years. Note that there are many more companies around the globe building hardware and software for quantum computers who do not yet have publicly available solutions. These are not listed here.

A recent analysis of a few of these languages, libraries, and frameworks is available in ACM Computing Surveys. Neither that analysis nor this timeline is meant to be exhaustive.