Fortran: About


Fortran is a general-purpose, compiled programming languages designed for numerical computation and scientific computing. Fortran is short for "FORmula TRANslation". It was originally developed by IBM in 1957 for scientific and engineering applications. It was first proposed in 1953 by John W. Backus as a more practical alternative to the Assembly language for programming the IBM 704 mainframe computer.

Fortran is considered the first widely used high-level programming language (the first one is said to be Plankalk├╝l).

It has been used extensively for s numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, computational physics, crystallography and computational chemistry. It is also a popular language for high-performance computing and programs that benchmark and rank the world's fastest supercomputers.

Among the versions of Fortran are:

  • FORTRAN (1957)
  • FORTRAN II (1958)
  • FORTRAN III (1958)
  • IBM 1401 FORTRAN
  • FORTRAN IV (1961)
  • FORTRAN 66 (1966; first first industry-standard - ANSI - version of FORTRAN)
  • FORTRAN 77 (1977)
  • Fortran 90 (early 1990s; dropped all capital letters)
  • Fortran 95
  • Fortran 2003
  • Fortran 2009
  • Fortran 2018

In addition to the above version, there have been many other variations of Fortran, such as:

  • Fortran 5 (variation developed by Data General Corp in late 1970s/early 1980s)
  • Fortran 6 (or Visual Fortran 2001 was licensed to Compaq by Microsoft)

John W. Backus

John W. Backus was a computer scientist who worked for IBM as a programmer in New York City from 1950 to 1954, a manager of programming research in New York City from 1954 to 1959, a staff member of IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. from 1959 to 1963, and an IBM Fellow in both Yorktown and San Jose, Calif., from 1963 into the 1990s.

Among the awards he recieved are:

  • IBM Fellow (1963)
  • IEEE awarded W. W. McDowell Award (1967)
  • National Medal of Science (1975)
  • ACM Turing Award (1977)
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985)
  • Charles Stark Draper Prize (1993)