John Backus

John Warner Backus (December 3, 1924 – March 17, 2007) was an American computer scientist. He directed the team that invented and implemented FORTRAN, the first widely used high-level programming language, and was the inventor of the Backus–Naur form (BNF), a widely used notation to define formal language syntax. He later did research into the function-level programming paradigm, presenting his findings in his influential 1977 Turing Award lecture "Can Programming Be Liberated from the von Neumann Style?"

The IEEE awarded Backus the W. W. McDowell Award in 1967 for the development of FORTRAN.[1] He received the National Medal of Science in 1975[2] and the 1977 ACM Turing Award "for profound, influential, and lasting contributions to the design of practical high-level programming systems, notably through his work on FORTRAN, and for publication of formal procedures for the specification of programming languages".[3]

He retired in 1991 and died at his home in Ashland, Oregon on March 17, 2007.[4]

John Backus
John Backus 2
Backus in December 1989
John Warner Backus

December 3, 1924
DiedMarch 17, 2007 (aged 82)
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
Columbia University (B.S. 1949, M.S. 1950)
Known forSpeedcoding
Backus–Naur form
Function-level programming
AwardsNational Medal of Science (1975)
ACM Turing Award (1977)
Charles Stark Draper Prize (1993)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science

Early life

Backus was born in Philadelphia and grew up in nearby Wilmington, Delaware.[5] He studied at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was apparently not a diligent student.[4] After entering the University of Virginia to study chemistry, he quit and was conscripted into the U.S. Army.[4] He began medical training at Haverford College[6] and, during an internship at a hospital, he was diagnosed with a cranial bone tumor, which was successfully removed; a plate was installed in his head, and he ended medical training after nine months and a subsequent operation to replace the plate with one of his own design.[7]


After moving to New York City he trained initially as a radio technician and became interested in mathematics. He graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor's degree in 1949 and a master's degree in 1950, both in mathematics,[8] and joined IBM in 1950. During his first three years, he worked on the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC); his first major project was to write a program to calculate positions of the Moon. In 1953 Backus developed the language Speedcoding, the first high-level language created for an IBM computer, to aid in software development for the IBM 701 computer.[9]

Programming was very difficult at this time, and in 1954 Backus assembled a team to define and develop Fortran for the IBM 704 computer. Fortran was the first high-level programming language to be put to broad use.

Backus–Naur form

Backus served on the international committees that developed ALGOL 58 and the very influential ALGOL 60, which quickly became the de facto worldwide standard for publishing algorithms. Backus developed the Backus–Naur form (BNF), in the UNESCO report on ALGOL 58. It was a formal notation able to describe any context-free programming language, and was important in the development of compilers. A few deviations from this approach were tried—notably in Lisp and APL—but by the 1970s, following the development of automated compiler generators such as yacc, Backus–Naur context-free specifications for computer languages had become quite standard. This contribution helped Backus win the Turing Award in 1977.

Function-level programming

Backus later worked on a function-level programming language known as FP, which was described in his Turing Award lecture "Can Programming be Liberated from the von Neumann Style?". Sometimes viewed as Backus's apology for creating Fortran, this paper did less to garner interest in the FP language than to spark research into functional programming in general. When Backus publicized the function-level style of programming, his message was mostly misunderstood[10] as being the same as traditional functional programming style languages.

FP was strongly inspired by Kenneth E. Iverson’s APL, even using a non-standard character set. An FP interpreter was distributed with the 4.2BSD Unix operating system, but there were relatively few implementations of the language, most of which were used for educational purposes.

Backus spent the latter part of his career developing FL (from "Function Level"), a successor to FP. FL was an internal IBM research project, and development of the language stopped when the project was finished. Only a few papers documenting it remain, and the source code of the compiler described in them was not made public. FL was at odds with functional programming languages being developed in the 1980s, most of which were based on the lambda calculus and static typing systems instead of, as in APL, the concatenation of primitive operations. Many of the language's ideas have now been implemented in versions of the J programming language, Iverson's successor to APL.

Awards and honors

See also


  1. ^ a b "W. Wallace McDowell Award". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "The President's National Medal of Science: John Backus". National Science Foundation. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "ACM Turing Award Citation: John Backus". Association for Computing Machinery. Archived from the original on February 4, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Lohr, Steve (March 20, 2007). "John W. Backus, 82, Fortran Developer, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
  5. ^ "John Backus". The History of Computing Project. Archived from the original on April 27, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  6. ^ "Inventor of the Week Archive John Backus". February 2006. Archived from the original on October 26, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  7. ^ Grady Booch (interviewer) (September 25, 2006). "Oral History of John Backus" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  8. ^ "John Backus - A.M. Turing Award Laureate". Archived from the original on January 19, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  9. ^ Allen, F.E. (September 1981). "The History of Language Processor Technology in IBM". IBM Journal of Research and Development. 25 (5): 535–548. doi:10.1147/rd.255.0535. Archived from the original on May 23, 2014.
  10. ^ Hudak, Paul (1989). "Conception, Evolution, And Application Of Functional Programming Languages". ACM Computing Surveys, Vol. 21, No. 3
  11. ^ "John Backus". IBM Archives. Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
  12. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  13. ^ "John Backus". Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  14. ^ "Recipients of the Charles Stark Draper Prize". Archived from the original on March 2, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  15. ^ "Fellow Awards 1997 Recipient John Backus". Archived from the original on July 9, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2008.

External links


ALGOL 58, originally known as IAL, is one of the family of ALGOL computer programming languages. It was an early compromise design soon superseded by ALGOL 60. According to John Backus

"The Zurich ACM-GAMM Conference had two principal motives in proposing the IAL: (a) To provide a means of communicating numerical methods and other procedures between people, and (b) To provide a means of realizing a stated process on a variety of machines..."

ALGOL 58 introduced the fundamental notion of the compound statement, but it was restricted to control flow only, and it was not tied to identifier scope in the way that Algol 60's blocks were.


Backus is a middle English surname deriving from the Old English bacan "to bake" and hus "house." It is believed to originate in Cumberland and Durham. Notable people with the surname include:

A. E. Backus (1909–1990), American artist

Azel Backus (1765–1816), first President of Hamilton College in New York

Billy Backus (born 1943), former world boxing champion

Edward Burdette Backus (1888–1955), American Unitarian minister and humanist

Edward Wellington Backus (1861–1934), American timber baron

Frederick F. Backus (1794–1858), American physician and member of the New York State Senate

George Edward Backus (born 1930), American geophysicist

Gus Backus (1937–2019), American singer

Henny Backus (1911–2004), Broadway showgirl and wife of Jim Backus

Henry T. Backus (1809–1877), American politician, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan and judge in Arizona Territory

Isaac Backus (1724–1806), American Baptist preacher and politician

Jan Backus (20th century), Vermont state senator

Jeff Backus (born 1977), American professional football player

Jim Backus (1913–1989), American actor

John Backus (1924–2007), American computer scientist

Samuel W. Backus, 19th-century American politician from California

Sharron Backus (born 1946), American former softball player and coach

Winston Backus (born 1920), Canadian politician

Charles Stark Draper Prize

The U.S. National Academy of Engineering annually awards the Draper Prize, which is given for the advancement of engineering and the education of the public about engineering. It is one of three prizes that constitute the "Nobel Prizes of Engineering" — the others are the Academy's Russ and Gordon Prizes. The winner of each of these prizes receives $500,000. The Draper prize is named for Charles Stark Draper, the "father of inertial navigation", an MIT professor and founder of Draper Laboratory.

Computer programming

Computer programming is the process of designing and building an executable computer program for accomplishing a specific computing task. Programming involves tasks such as: analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms in a chosen programming language (commonly referred to as coding). The source code of a program is written in one or more languages that are intelligible to programmers, rather than machine code, which is directly executed by the central processing unit. The purpose of programming is to find a sequence of instructions that will automate the performance of a task (which can be as complex as an operating system) on a computer, often for solving a given problem. The process of programming thus often requires expertise in several different subjects, including knowledge of the application domain, specialized algorithms, and formal logic.

Tasks accompanying and related to programming include: testing, debugging, source code maintenance, implementation of build systems, and management of derived artifacts, such as the machine code of computer programs. These might be considered part of the programming process, but often the term software development is used for this larger process with the term programming, implementation, or coding reserved for the actual writing of code. Software engineering combines engineering techniques with software development practices. Reverse engineering is the opposite process. A hacker is any skilled computer expert that uses their technical knowledge to overcome a problem, but it can also mean a security hacker in common language.

FL (programming language)

FL (short for Function Level) is a functional programming language created at the IBM Almaden Research Center by John Backus, John Williams, and Edward Wimmers in the 1980s and documented in a report from 1989. FL was designed as a successor of Backus' earlier FP language, providing specific support for what Backus termed function-level programming.

FL is a dynamically typed strict functional programming language with throw and catch exception semantics much like in ML. Each function has an implicit history argument which is used for doing things like strictly functional input/output (I/O), but is also used for linking to C code. For doing optimization, there exists a type-system which is an extension of Hindley–Milner type inference.

Many of the language’s innovative ideas have since been implemented in Kenneth E. Iverson’s J language.

FP (programming language)

FP (short for function programming) is a programming language created by John Backus to support the function-level programming paradigm. This allows eliminating named variables. The language was introduced in Backus's 1977 Turing Award lecture, "Can Programming Be Liberated from the von Neumann Style?", subtitled "a functional style and its algebra of programs." The paper sparked interest in functional programming research, eventually leading to modern functional languages, and not the function-level paradigm Backus had hoped. FP itself never found much use outside of academia. In the 1980s Backus created a successor language, FL, which remained a research project.


Fortran (; formerly FORTRAN, derived from Formula Translation) is a general-purpose, compiled imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing.

Originally developed by IBM in the 1950s for scientific and engineering applications, FORTRAN came to dominate this area of programming early on and has been in continuous use for over half a century in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, computational physics, crystallography and computational chemistry. It is a popular language for high-performance computing and is used for programs that benchmark and rank the world's fastest supercomputers.Fortran encompasses a lineage of versions, each of which evolved to add extensions to the language while usually retaining compatibility with prior versions. Successive versions have added support for structured programming

and processing of character-based data (FORTRAN 77), array programming, modular programming and generic programming (Fortran 90), high performance Fortran (Fortran 95), object-oriented programming (Fortran 2003) and concurrent programming (Fortran 2008).

Fortran's design was the basis for many other programming languages. Among the better known is BASIC, which is based on FORTRAN II with a number of syntax cleanups, notably better logical structures, and other changes to more easily work in an interactive environment.

Function-level programming

In computer science, function-level programming refers to one of the two contrasting programming paradigms identified by John Backus in his work on programs as mathematical objects, the other being value-level programming.

In his 1977 Turing award lecture, Backus set forth what he considered to be the need to switch to a different philosophy in programming language design:

Programming languages appear to be in trouble. Each successive language incorporates, with a little cleaning up, all the features of its predecessors plus a few more. [...] Each new language claims new and fashionable features... but the plain fact is that few languages make programming sufficiently cheaper or more reliable to justify the cost of producing and learning to use them.

He designed FP to be the first programming language to specifically support the function-level programming style.

A function-level program is variable-free (cf. point-free programming), since program variables, which are essential in value-level definitions, are not needed in function-level programs.

History of programming languages

The first high-level programming language was Plankalkül, created by Konrad Zuse between 1942 and 1945. The first high-level language to have an associated compiler was created by Corrado Böhm in 1951, for his PhD thesis. The first commercially available language was FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation); developed in 1956 (first manual appeared in 1956, but first developed in 1954) by a team led by John Backus at IBM.

When FORTRAN was first introduced it was treated with suspicion because of the belief that programs compiled from high-level language would be less efficient than those written directly in machine code. FORTRAN became popular because it provided a means of porting existing code to new computers, in a hardware market that was rapidly evolving; the language eventually became known for its efficiency.

IBM Research

IBM Research is IBM's research and development division. It is the largest industrial research organization in the world, with twelve labs on six continents.IBM employees have garnered six Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, 20 inductees into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame, 19 National Medals of Technology, five National Medals of Science and three Kavli Prizes.As of 2018, the company has generated more patents than any other business in each of 25 consecutive years, which is a record.

IBM Research - Almaden

IBM Research - Almaden is in Almaden Valley, San Jose, California, and is one of IBM's twelve worldwide research labs that form IBM Research. Its scientists perform basic and applied research in computer science, services, storage systems, physical sciences, and materials science and technology. The center opened in 1986, and continues the research started in San Jose more than fifty years ago. Nearly all of Almaden’s approximately 500 research employees are in technical functions and more than half of these hold Ph.D.s. The lab is home to ten IBM Fellows, ten IBM Distinguished Engineers, nine IBM Master Inventors and seventeen members of the IBM Academy of Technology.

Almaden occupies part of a site owned by IBM at 650 Harry Road on nearly 700 acres (2.8 km2) of land in the hills above Silicon Valley. The site, built in 1985 for the research center, was chosen because of its close proximity to Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley and other collaborative academic institutions. Today, the research division is still the largest tenant of the site, but the majority of occupants work for other divisions of IBM.

IBM opened its first West Coast research centre, the San Jose Research Laboratory in 1952, managed by Reynold B. Johnson. Amongst its first developments was the IBM 350, the first commercial moving head hard disk drive. Launched in 1956, this saw use in the IBM 305 RAMAC computer system. Subdivisions included the Advanced Systems Development Division. Directors of the center include hard disc drive developer Jack Harker.

Prompted by a need for additional space, the center moved to its present Almaden location in 1986.

Scientists at IBM Almaden have contributed to several scientific discoveries such as the development of photoresists and the quantum mirage effect.The following are some of the famous scientists who have worked in the past or are currently working in this laboratory: Rakesh Agrawal, John Backus, Raymond F. Boyce, Donald D. Chamberlin, Ashok K. Chandra, Edgar F. Codd, Mark Dean, Cynthia Dwork, Don Eigler, Ronald Fagin, Jim Gray, Laura M. Haas, Joseph Halpern, Andreas J. Heinrich, Reynold B. Johnson, Maria Klawe, Jaishankar Menon, Dharmendra Modha, William E. Moerner, C. Mohan, Stuart Parkin, Nick Pippenger, Patricia Selinger, Ted Selker, Barbara Simons, Ramakrishnan Srikant, Larry Stockmeyer, Moshe Vardi, Jennifer Widom.

J (programming language)

The J programming language, developed in the early 1990s by Kenneth E. Iverson and Roger Hui, is a synthesis of APL (also by Iverson) and the FP and FL function-level languages created by John Backus.To avoid repeating the APL special-character problem, J uses only the basic ASCII character set, resorting to the use of the dot and colon as inflections to form short words similar to digraphs. Most such primary (or primitive) J words serve as mathematical symbols, with the dot or colon extending the meaning of the basic characters available. Also, many characters which in other languages often must be paired (such as [] {} "" `` or <>) are treated by J as stand-alone words or, when inflected, as single-character roots of multi-character words.

J is a very terse array programming language, and is most suited to mathematical and statistical programming, especially when performing operations on matrices. It has also been used in extreme programming and network performance analysis.Like the original FP/FL languages, J supports function-level programming via its tacit programming features.

Unlike most languages that support object-oriented programming, J's flexible hierarchical namespace scheme (where every name exists in a specific locale) can be effectively used as a framework for both class-based and prototype-based object-oriented programming.

Since March 2011, J is free and open-source software under the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3). One may also purchase source under a negotiated license.

John Backus (acoustician)

John Graham Backus (April 29, 1911 – October 28, 1988) was an American physicist and acoustician.

John Backus was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he studied at Reed College, receiving a BA in 1932. He went on to graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he did research in nuclear physics at the Radiation Laboratory under Ernest Lawrence. He received an MA in 1936, and a PhD in 1940. In 1945 he was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Southern California, a post he retained until his retirement in 1980. During the early part of his career, his research focussed on gaseous discharges in strong magnetic fields. He was also a musician, trained as a performer on piano, bassoon, clarinet and other woodwinds and received the degree of MMus in conducting from the University of Southern California in 1959. In his later career he turned increasingly to the study of musical acoustics, particularly those of wind instruments and organ pipes. In 1969 he published The Acoustical Foundations of Music, a book which became a standard text for introductory courses in musical acoustics. A second edition appeared in 1977. He received the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America in 1986. Backus died in Los Angeles in 1988.

John Backus was a Renaissance man who in addition to music and physics was a highly skilled mountaineer. The Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks Section List contains approximately 275 summits, and John was the first person to ascend every mountain on the list six times. He was also the first person to lead every peak on the list, among his many hiking and climbing accomplishments.

List of programming language researchers

The following is list of researchers of programming language theory, design, implementation, and related areas.

John Backus, leader of the team that developed FORTRAN, developer of BNF

Friedrich L. Bauer, co-designer of ALGOL

Kathleen Booth, designed and developed the first assembly language

Gilad Bracha, designer of Newspeak, researcher in the area of reflection

Walter Bright, designer of D

Alain Colmerauer, creator of Prolog

Ole-Johan Dahl, co-inventor of Simula

Brendan Eich, designer of JavaScript

James Gosling, father of the Java programming language

Ralph Griswold, designer of SNOBOL, SL5, and Icon

Anders Hejlsberg, original author of Turbo Pascal, chief architect of C#

Rich Hickey, designer of Clojure

Grace Hopper, co-designer of COBOL

Roberto Ierusalimschy, designer of Lua

Alan Kay, and Dan Ingalls, co-inventors of Smalltalk

John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz, designed and developed the first BASIC language

Brian Kernighan, co-designer of AWK and AMPL

Chris Lattner, designer of Swift

Rasmus Lerdorf, father of PHP

Xavier Leroy, chief designer of OCaml

Yukihiro Matsumoto, designer of Ruby

John McCarthy, designer of LISP

Kristen Nygaard, co-inventor of Simula

Martin Odersky, designer of Scala

John Ousterhout, designer of Tcl

Rob Pike, co-designer of Limbo and Go

Dennis Ritchie, designer of C

Guido van Rossum, designer of Python

Guy L. Steele, Jr., co-designer of Scheme and designer of Fortress

Bjarne Stroustrup, designer of C++

Gerald Jay Sussman, co-designer of Scheme

Don Syme, creator of F#

Ken Thompson, designer of B and co-designer of Go

Larry Wall, designer of Perl

Philip Wadler, co-designer of Haskell

Niklaus Wirth, designer of Pascal, Modula-2

Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Language


Speedcoding or Speedcode was the first high-level programming language created for an IBM computer. The language was developed by John Backus in 1953 for the IBM 701 to support computation with floating point numbers. Here high level means symbolic and aiming for natural language expressivity as a goal as opposed to machine or hardware instruction oriented coding.

The idea arose from the difficulty of programming the IBM SSEC machine when Backus was hired to calculate astronomical positions in early 1950.

The speedcoding system was an interpreter and focused on ease of use at the expense of system resources. It provided pseudo-instructions for common mathematical functions: logarithms, exponentiation, and trigonometric operations. The resident software analyzed pseudo-instructions one by one and called the appropriate subroutine. Speedcoding was also the first implementation of decimal input/output operations. Although it substantially reduced the effort of writing many jobs, the running time of a program that was written with the help of Speedcoding was usually ten to twenty times that of machine code. The interpreter took 310 memory words, about 30% of the memory available on a 701.

Thomas Ingersoll

Thomas Ingersoll (1749–1812) was an early settler in Upper Canada, later Ontario. He is best known as the father of Laura Secord, who warned the British of an impending American attack on Upper Canada during the War of 1812.

He was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, later moving to Great Barrington where, aside from his trade as a hatter, he also served as constable and tax collector. In 1775, he married Elizabeth Dewey. He served as a lieutenant in the American militia from 1777 to 1781 and continued to serve in the Great Barrington militia after the American Revolution, reaching the rank of major. After the death of his first wife in 1784, when Laura (his eldest daughter) was eight, he married Mercy Smith, the widow of Josiah Smith. After the death of his second wife, he married Sarah Whiting, the widow of John Backus, in 1789.

Ingersoll emigrated to Upper Canada after hearing about the availability of land there for new settlers. In 1793, he obtained a land grant of 66,000 acres (267 km²) in Oxford County from Governor John Graves Simcoe. He named the new settlement Oxford-on-the-Thames. Ingersoll was named a justice of the peace for the county.

By November 1795, Ingersoll had once again uprooted, moving to Queenston, Upper Canada and operating one of the earliest taverns before putting it up for sale in 1801.In 1806, he left the settlement at Oxford-on-the-Thames and settled on the Credit River near Port Credit, operating "Government House" until his death in 1812.

His son Charles renamed Oxford-on-the-Thames "Ingersoll" in his honor.

Value-level programming

Value-level programming refers to one of the two contrasting programming paradigms identified by John Backus in his work on programs as mathematical objects, the other being function-level programming. Backus originally used the term object-level programming but that term is now prone to confusion with object-oriented programming.

Value-level programs are those that describe how to combine various values (i.e., numbers, symbols, strings, etc.) to form other values until the final result values are obtained. New values are constructed from existing ones by the application of various value-to-value functions, such as addition, concatenation, matrix inversion, and so on.

Conventional, von Neumann programs are value-level: expressions on the right side of assignment statements are exclusively concerned with building a value that is then to be stored.

Von Neumann programming languages

A von Neumann language is any of those programming languages that are high-level abstract isomorphic copies of von Neumann architectures. As of 2009, most current programming languages fit into this description, likely as a consequence of the extensive domination of the von Neumann computer architecture during the past 50 years.

The differences between Fortran, C, and even Java, although considerable, are ultimately constrained by all three being based on the programming style of the von Neumann computer. If, for example, Java objects were all executed in parallel with asynchronous message passing and attribute-based declarative addressing, then Java would not be in the group.

The isomorphism between von Neumann programming languages and architectures is in the following manner:

program variables ↔ computer storage cells

control statements ↔ computer test-and-jump instructions

assignment statements ↔ fetching, storing instructions

expressions ↔ memory reference and arithmetic instructions.

W. Wallace McDowell Award

The W. Wallace McDowell Award is awarded by the IEEE Computer Society for outstanding recent theoretical, design, educational, practical, or other similar innovative contributions that fall within the scope of Computer Society interest. This is the highest technical award made solely by the IEEE Computer Society where selection of the awardee is based on the "highest level of technical accomplishment and achievement". The IEEE Computer Society (with over 85000 members from every field of computing) is "dedicated to advancing the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing technology." Another award which is considered to be the "most prestigious technical award in computing" is the A. M. Turing Award awarded by Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and is popularly referred to as the "computer science's equivalent of the Nobel Prize". The W. Wallace McDowell Award is sometimes popularly referred to as the "IT Nobel".The award is named after W. Wallace McDowell who was director of engineering at IBM, during the development of the landmark product IBM 701. Mr. McDowell was responsible for the transition from electromechanical techniques to electronics, and the subsequent transition to solid state devices.The first recipient, in 1966, was Fernando J. Corbato who is a prominent American computer scientist, notable as a pioneer in the development of time-sharing operating systems, then of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The second recipient, in 1967, was John Backus who was awarded the Mcdowell Award for the development of FORTRAN and the syntactical forms incorporated in ALGOL. John Backus was the developer of FORTRAN, for years one of the best known and most used programming systems in the world.


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