M is a programming language intended primarily for database applications in the biomedical field. The language has a long history. It was first conceived in 1966 as MUMPS (Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System) in the animal lab at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. It became an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard programming language in 1977.
In 1990, the name was formally changed from MUMPS to M because the original name gave people the idea that the language has something specifically to do with the disease called the mumps. (Nevertheless, some people still call it MUMPS.) M forces a rigorous syntax on the programmer. For this reason, some programmers dislike M because they find it difficult to read and debug. The only data type is called a string, which is converted into or derived from numerical data such as dates and times, physical addresses, telephone numbers, or identification numbers.
M or MUMPS is not to be confused with MUMPs, a program that assists companies and academic researchers that have ideas for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) to manufacture prototypes.