Perl is a high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming language.
Though Perl is not officially an acronym, there are various backronyms in use, such as: Practical Extraction and Reporting Language. Perl was originally developed by Larry Wall in 1987 as a general-purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions. The latest major stable revision is 5.16, released in May 2012. Perl 6 is a complete redesign of the language, announced in 2000 and still under active development as of 2012.
Perl borrows features from other programming languages including C, shell scripting (sh), AWK, and sed. The language provides powerful text processing facilities without the arbitrary data length limits of many contemporary Unix tools, facilitating easy manipulation of text files. Perl gained widespread popularity in the late 1990s as a CGI scripting language, in part due to its parsing abilities.
In addition to CGI, Perl is used for graphics programming, system administration, network programming, finance, bioinformatics, and other applications. Perl is nicknamed "the Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages" because of its flexibility and power, and possibly also because of its perceived "ugliness". In 1998, it was also referred to as the "duct tape that holds the Internet together", in reference to its ubiquity and perceived inelegance.