the beginning

how was the first programming language written?
To quote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-generation_programming_language

The instructions were given through the front panel switches of these computers, directly to the CPU


although 'front panel' may be too narrow - I used a device once, where I had to set the 8 switches for the 8 bits of the next command, and then press a button to put them into the memory. As for what makes those 8 bits mean something like 'add CPU register A and CPU register B', that was hard-coded in the CPU at hardware level.
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that was hard-coded in the CPU at hardware level.


To elaborate, this is called microcode. They are actually stored in *a special area of Read-Only-Memory known as the control store, local to the CPU for quick access. The instructions are essentially sequences of different synchronized electrical pulses and switches.
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