Ruby is a dynamic, reflective, general-purpose object-oriented programming language that combines syntax inspired by Perl with Smalltalk-like features. Ruby originated in Japan during the mid-1990s and was first developed and designed by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto. It was influenced primarily by Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, and Lisp.
Ruby supports multiple programming paradigms, including functional, object oriented, imperative and reflective. It also has a dynamic type system and automatic memory management; it is therefore similar in varying respects to Smalltalk, Python, Perl, Lisp, Dylan, Pike, and CLU.
The standard 1.8.7 implementation is written in C, as a single-pass interpreted language. There is currently no specification of the Ruby language, so the original implementation is considered to be the de facto reference. As of 2010, there are a number of complete or upcoming alternative implementations of the Ruby language, including YARV, JRuby, Rubinius, IronRuby, MacRuby, and HotRuby. Each takes a different approach, with IronRuby, JRuby and MacRuby providing just-in-time compilation and MacRuby also providing ahead-of-time compilation. The official 1.9 branch uses YARV, as will 2.0 (development), and will eventually supersede the slower Ruby MRI.