FORTRAN turns 67 years old today #Programming #History

Today in 1954 marks the first successful test compilation and execution of a computer program, using what became Fortran, was run.

The first compiler for general-purpose, imperative programming language would not be delivered for three more years in 1957.

Fortran was originally developed by IBM. It quickly became the dominant language for engineering and scientific applications.  Indeed, Fortran was the trusted language for programs that benchmarked and ranked the world’s fastest supercomputers for decades.

The language was born when IBM computer scientists, lead by John W. Backus, were looking for a more practical alternative to assembly language for programming mainframe computers.

“Much of my work has come from being lazy,” Backus said during a 1979 interview with Think, the IBM employee magazine. “I didn’t like writing programs, and so, when I was working on the IBM 701, writing programs for computing missile trajectories, I started work on a programming system to make it easier to write programs.”

The official language standards for Fortran have referred to the language as “Fortran” with initial caps (rather than “FORTRAN” in all-uppercase) since Fortran 90.

While not the only language in today’s game, Fortran remains a popular choice for engineering and scientific applications. The latest revision of the language is Fortran 2018, which was released in November 2018.

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Ed. note: FORTRAN was my first programming language, using punched cards in a high school classroom in 1979.


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