Ruby is a dynamic, object-oriented, reflective programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write. It also has a dynamic type system and automatic memory management.
Known for its syntactic sugar, Ruby is made for developer’s happiness. It was created by a Japanese software engineer, Yukihiro Matsumoto (also popularly known as Matz) as a simple general purpose scripting language for his day-to-day work. Combining elements of Perl, Smalltalk, and Scheme in a simple yet powerful syntax.
Ruby was conceived on February 24, 1993. In a 1999 post to the ruby-talk mailing list, Yukihiro Matsumoto describes some of his early ideas about the language:
I was talking with my colleague about the possibility of an object-oriented scripting language. I knew Perl (Perl4, not Perl5), but I didn’t like it really, because it had the smell of a toy language (it still has). The object-oriented language seemed very promising. I knew Python then. But I didn’t like it, because I didn’t think it was a true object-oriented language — OO features appeared to be add-on to the language. As a language maniac and OO fan for 15 years, I really wanted a genuine object-oriented, easy-to-use scripting language. I looked for but couldn’t find one. So I decided to make it.
Like Perl, Ruby is good at text processing. Like Smalltalk, everything in Ruby is an object, and Ruby has blocks, iterators, meta-classes and other good stuff. You can use Ruby to write servers, experiment with prototypes, and for everyday programming tasks. As a fully-integrated object-oriented language, Ruby scales well.
By 2000, Ruby was more popular than Python in Japan; but as the Ruby on Rails web framework was created and released; it grew in leaps and bounds, well beyond Japan.
Today, Ruby on Rails is considered a solid web framework; and it has pioneered lot of great practices in web development.
Similarly a lot of popular sites are coded in Ruby on Rails like GitHub, Airbnb, Groupon, etc.
There are various implementations of Ruby. JRuby (Ruby on the JVM), Ruby MRI (also called CRuby) and IronRuby (Ruby for .NET and Silverlight) are some of the most popular ones.