Fortran Specialist Group

John W Backus 1924 - 2007

It was sad but perhaps appropriate that in the Golden Jubilee year of the release by IBM of the first FORTRAN compiler, John W. Backus, "who built and led the IBM team that created Fortran, the first widely used programming language, which helped to open the door to modern computing", died on Saturday 17 March 2007 at his home in Ashland, Oregon. He was 82.

"Fortran, released in 1957, changed the terms of communication between humans and computers, moving up a level to a language that was more comprehensible by humans. So Fortran, in computing vernacular, is considered to be the first successful high- level language."

Alex Stepanov, John Backus & Paul McJones, February 2004

John Backus, centre, with Alex Stepanov, left, and Paul McJones, right, both of Adobe Systems Inc, in February 2004

Photograph courtesy of Paul McJones, editor of the Fortran pages on the website of the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California.

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Last modified: Sat 29 Dec 2012 15:32:13