Python was developed in the early 1990's by Guido van Rossum, then at CWI in Amsterdam, and currently at CNRI in Virginia. In some ways, python grew out of a project to design a computer language which would be easy for beginners to learn, yet would be powerful enough for even advanced users. This heritage is reflected in python's small, clean syntax and the thoroughness of the implementation of ideas like object-oriented programming, without eliminating the ability to program in a more traditional style. So python is an excellent choice as a first programming language without sacrificing the power and advanced capabilities that users will eventually need.
Although pictures of snakes often appear on python books and websites, the name is derived from Guido van Rossum's favorite TV show, ``Monty Python's Flying Circus''. For this reason, lots of online and print documentation for the language has a light and humorous touch. Interestingly, many experienced programmers report that python has brought back a lot of the fun they used to have programming, so van Rossum's inspiration may be well expressed in the language itself.