First FORTRAN program runs

20th September 1954
First FORTRAN program runs

On 20th September 1954, the first successful FORTRAN program runs on the IBM 704 vacuum tube computer.

FORTRAN is a programming language invented at IBM John Backus and his team. The name FORTRAN stands for "FORmula TRANslator". The goal of FORTRAN was to simplify the coding process by allowing the programmer to write software using simple algebra-like expressions.

In a 1979 interview, John Backus explained the origins of FORTRAN:

"Much of my work has come from being lazy. 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."

FORTRAN is still used today in scientific and engineering applications. This means that FORTRAN is one of the oldest programming languages still in use.

Related information:


  • Cover of The Fortran Automatic Coding System for the IBM 704, the first book about Fortran.
    Credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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