By abeard

FORTRAN (IBM mathematical formula translating system) is a programming language that is oriented towards computing and math. It was made in the 50’s and has been used in areas that require a lot of math, such as numerical weather prediction, computational science, and finite element analysis, as well as being used in some of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The lead designer of FORTRAN was John Backus. He sent FORTRAN to his superiors at IBM so that they could use on the IBM 704 mainframe computer, because FORTRAN was faster than assembly language, which was what currently being used. Other members on the FORTRAN design team were Richard Goldberg, Sheldon F. Best, Harlan Herrick, Peter Sheridan, Roy Nutt, Robert Nelson, Irving Ziller, Lois Haibt and David Sayre.

Fortran rapidly became popular after initial skepticism, somewhat because it had far fewer statements that a programmer would have to memorize, and largely because programs that could have take weeks to write could now be written in a matter of hours. John Backus once said in an interview with an IBM employee magazine: "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 (an early computer), writing programs for computing missile trajectories, I started work on a programming system to make it easier to write programs."

After the first FORTRAN there were quite a few subsequent releases including FORTRAN II, in 1958, FORTRAN III, also in 1958, though it was never a commercial product, FORTRAN IV, in 1961 due to customer requests, it eliminated some machine based requirements, FORTRAN 66, which was released in 1966, FORTRAN 77, released in 1977, FORTRAN 90, FORTRAN 95, which had minor adjustments to FORTRAN 90, and the most recent one FORTRAN 2003. A FORTRAN 2008 is in the works, and is going to be similar to the FORTRAN 95 version in that it is going to make minor changes to the 2003 version.

Being a very popular programming language, FORTRAN produced a lot of variant and spin-off programming languages such as FORTRAN 5, which is closest to FORTRAN 66, CFD, which was made specifically for one computer, the ILLIAC IV, and FOR TRANSIT a variant designed for the IBM 650 because FORTRAN was to advanced for it

FORTRAN was a high level programming language. A high level programming language is a computer language that has abstractions of details, making it much more user-friendly than low-level programming languages, with the low-level languages requiring a very deep understanding of how the computer worked. While it was not the first HLL (High Level programming Language0 it was the first one that achieved success.

Sources: Wikipedia and

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