Left photo: from . The caption
reads: "John Backus, leader of the group which developed FORTRAN (1954-57),
was an early SSEC programmer." After serving in the US Army in World War
II, Backus received his BS in mathematics from Columbia's School of General
Studies in 1949 (and, I believe, he also earned a Columbia Masters, year
unknown). He worked at IBM Watson Lab at
Columbia University from 1950 to 1952, and went on to lead IBM's Programming
Research Group, and was honored as an IBM Fellow in 1963. Besides FORTRAN,
Backus also developed BNF (Backus Normal Form or Backus Naur Form, an
Chomsky's generative grammar to formal computer languages), the language
that is used to formally describe computer languages, and was principal
author of the Algol 60 Revised Report. He retired in 1991. ACM Turing
For profound, influential, and lasting contributions to the design of
practical high-level programming systems, notably through his work on
FORTRAN, and for seminal publication of formal procedures for the
specification of programming languages.
John Backus died at his home in Ashland, Oregon, March 17, 2007.
- Backus, John W., "The IBM 701 Speedcoding System", IBM, New York
(10 Sep 1953), 4pp.
- Backus, John W., "The IBM Speedcoding System", The Journal of the
Association for Computing Machinery, Vol.1 No.1 (Jan 1954), pp.4-6.
- Backus, John W., and Harlan Herrick, "IBM 701 Speedcoding and Other
Automatic Programming Systems", Symposium on Automatic Programming for
Digital Computers, Office of Technical Services, US Dept of Commerce,
Washington DC (May 1954), pp.106-113.
- Specifications for the IBM Mathematical FORmula TRANslating
System, FORTRAN, IBM Applied Science Division, New York (10 Nov
- Amdahl, G.M, and J.W. Backus, The System Design of the IBM Type
704, IBM Engineering Laboratory, Poughkeepsie NY (1955), 11pp.
- Backus, J.W., et al., The FORTRAN Automatic Coding System,
Proceedings of the Western Joint Computing Conference 1957, pp.188-198.
- Backus, J.W., The Syntax and Semantics of the Proposed
International Algebraic Language of Zürich ACM-GAMM Conference,
Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Processing, UNESCO,
- J.W. Backus, et al., and P. Naur (ed.), Revised Report on the
Algorithmic Language ALGOL 60, CACM, Vol. 6, p. 1; The Computer
Journal, Vol. 9, p. 349; Num. Math., Vol. 4, p. 420. (1963)
- J.W. Backus, "The History of Fortran I, II, and III",
Annals of the History of Computing, Vol.1 No.1
- Brennan, Jean Ford,
The IBM Watson Laboratory at
Columbia University - A History, IBM (1971)
- Shasha, Dennis, and Cathy Lazere,
Out of Their Minds: the lives and discoveries of 15 great
Copernicus / Springer-Verlag, New York (1995),
- Papers of John W. Backus 1954-1994, US Library of Congress,
Fortran and Algol References:
- "Preliminary Report, Programming Research Group, Applied Science
Division, International Busines Machines Corporation, November 10, 1954,
Specifications for The IBM Mathematical FORmula TRANslating System,
FORTRAN", in Carr. John W. and Norman R. Scott, editors, Notes:
Special Summer Conference on Digital Computers and Data Processors,
University of Michigan, College of Engineering (Summer 1955).
- IBM 704 Fortran Programmer's Reference Manual
(15 Oct 1956).
- IBM 704 Fortran Programmer's Primer (1957)
- IEEE Annals of the History of Computing,
Special Issue, "FORTRAN's Twenty-Fifth Anniversay", vol.6 No.1 (January 1984).
- Ekman, Torgil, and Carl-Erik Fröberg, Introduction to
Algol Programming (Lärobok i ALGOL),
Studentlitteratur, Lund, Sweden (1964) and Oxford University Press, London
Links (all good as of 4 September 2012):
translation of this page (Jovana Milutinovich, September 2012).
W. Backus, René Gabrels, Dirk Gerrits, Peter Kooijmans,
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven,
History of FORTRAN and FORTRAN II, Paul McJones (ed.), Computer History
- The IBM SSEC
- Early FORTRAN Days (Bob Bemer)
- Revised Report on the
Algorithmic Language Algol 60 by J.W. Backus, P. Naur, et al.
Normal Form vs. Backus Naur Form (Kelly Morrison)
Tue Sep 4 11:19:37 2012
Frank da Cruz / firstname.lastname@example.org /
Columbia University Computing History