FORmula TRANslation

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    nature: procedural language

    history: FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) was created in 1954 by John Backus and other researchers at International Business Machines (now IBM). Released in 1957. Intended for numerical and scientific work. FORTRAN is the oldest programming language still in common use. Identifiers were limited to six characters. Elegant representation of mathematic expressions, as well as relatively easy input and output. FORTRAN was based on A-0.

    The first commercial FORTRAN program was run in 1957 at Westinghouse. The first compile run produced a missing comma diagnostic. The second attempt was a success.

    “FORTRAN is a computer language first developed in the 1950’s and still used today. Its name comes from “formula translation,” revealing its early use in processing mathematics. Dialects include FORTRAN 77and FORTRAN 90. Versions include FORTRAN II, IV, and V, WATFOR, and WATFIV.” —Language Finger, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana.

    “Often referred to as a scientific language, FORTRAN was the first high-level language, using the first compiler ever developed. Prior to the development of FORTRAN computer programmers were required to program in machine/assembly code, which was an extremely difficult and time consuming task, not to mention the dreadful chore of debugging the code. The objective during its design was to create a programming language that would be: simple to learn, suitable for a wide variety of applications, machine independent, and would allow complex mathematical expressions to be stated similarly to regular algebraic notation. While still being almost as efficient in execution as assembly language. Since FORTRAN was so much easier to code, programmers were able to write programs 500% faster than before, while execution efficiency was only reduced by 20%, this allowed them to focus more on the problem solving aspects of a problem, and less on coding.” —Neal Ziring, The Language Guide, University of Michigan

    “FORTRAN was so innovative not only because it was the first high-level language [still in use], but also because of its compiler, which is credited as giving rise to the branch of computer science now known as compiler theory. Several years after its release FORTRAN had developed many different dialects, (due to special tweaking by programmers trying to make it better suit their personal needs) making it very difficult to transfer programs from one machine to another.” —Neal Ziring, The Language Guide, University of Michigan

    FORTRAN II in 1958 introduced subroutines, functions, links to assembly language, loops, and a primitive For loop.

    FORTRAN IV was released in 1962.

    FORTRAN 66 was released in 1966. The language was rarely used.

Hello World example

      WRITE(UNIT=*, FMT=*) 'Hello World'

significant features

    “Some of the more significant features of the language are listed below:” —Neal Ziring, The Language Guide, University of Michigan


    format: columns; line oriented; block structured

lexical elements

    source code character set: FORTRAN has a 48 character source code character set: 26 upper case alphabetic characters ( A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z ), the 10 decimal digits ( 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ), and 12 special characters ( blank + - * / . , " = $ ( ) ). Some kind of line break or record separator may be used with some input devices.

porting “The Digital Porting Assistant (available for Digital UNIX 3.2, and shipped as part of the developer toolkit on Digital UNIX 4.0) is a graphical environment which aids in the porting process. In addition to doing lint-like checking of C and Fortran code, it also contains extensive on-line help regarding developing software on Digital UNIX.”w55

further reading: books:

If you want your book reviewed, please send a copy to: Milo, POB 1361, Tustin, CA 92781, USA.

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    Numerical Recipes in Fortran: The Art of Scientific Computing; by William H. Press, Saul A. Teukolsky (Contributor), William T. Vetterling (Contributor); Cambridge Univ Pr (Short); October 1992; ISBN 052143064X; hardcover; 963 pages; $57.95

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If you want your book reviewed, please send a copy to: Milo, POB 1361, Tustin, CA 92781, USA.

geek humor

    “Real FORTRAN programmers can program FORTRAN in any language.” —Allen Brown

    “Since this is an exercise divorced from reality, the usual vehicle was FORTRAN.” —Ken Thompson, Turing Award Lecture

    “C is the Fortran of the 90s.”
    “Wrong. Fortran is the C of the 70s.” —Norman Diamond is used in more than 300 colleges and universities around the world

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