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It seems that this thread is mostly focused on what a very motivated
would-be-programmer should learn but I think there is something missing,
level of fun.

My Wife was forced to learn programming in university but she does not
know what language they taught her! She hated every second of it but
memorized enough to pass each test. She does not even like to see me
code now.

What would be a good first language that would actually make a reluctant
student WANT to learn more? Learning assembly or something might help
but it would not be fun. What about learning Lua, then C? or learning
PHP, C then Lua etc, etc..

Probably a new student would like:
Good documentation
Lots of sample code
Lots of libraries
and they would like to actually have something to show for their efforts
in a short time frame.

Python was my first. I think it is a great language with lots of offer
but after doing a project in PHP for a month it just did not seem like
as much fun when I came back to it. It seems a bit ridged to me now. I
am actually learning Lua to replace my Python needs. I think that OOP
without classes is going to be more fun.

Just my 2 cents, be warned I am on the lower level of experience on this