20th September 1954
First FORTRAN Program Runs
The first successful FORTRAN program runs. FORTRAN, a name derived from "FORmula TRANslator," was invented at IBM by a group led by John Backus. FORTRAN's purpose was to simplify the programming process by allowing the programmer ("coder") to use simple algebra-like expressions when writing software. It also took over the task of keeping track of where instructions were kept in memory--a very laborious and error-prone procedure when undertaken by humans. FORTRAN is still in use today in scientific and engineering applications, making it one of the oldest programming languages still in use (COBOL is another). Backus was named a Computer Museum History Center Fellow in 1997.
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