The Inventor of Fortran Has Died

John Backus, 82 years old and developer of Fortran, died in 2007. He was largely famed for leading the I.B.M. team to create a new computer language called “Fortran”. It is believed this language made it possible for more modern computing to be developed. No doubt, he had no idea that his involvement in the science would lead to such big developments in coming years.

In 1957, the language was released and considered a turning point in programming. It is considered one of the most successful and first high level languages, which means that the code is easily read by humans. With the code easier to read and write, it has enabled computer to human communication improve, and has paved the way to developing newer and better products.

Without Fortran, many programmers would not be in the business today. Careers have been shaped by the language and the opportunities it generated. It let users create programs that were extremely fast, and made the development time much shorter than other languages would have it.

Backus was sent into the draft in 1943, but scored so high on aptitude tests that the government instead paid his way into college. Upon graduation, he quickly got a job at I.B.M., where he was asked brain teasers as an interview, to verify he could think like a programmer. From there, he asked I.B.M. to head a development team to create a new language- and they approved.

He has two daughters, and two wives from previous marriages. Many IT experts and family members will be grieving his death, as he was an inspiration to many.

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