The first FORTRAN program

The first FORTRAN compiler shipped this week in 1957. Herbert Bright gives his account of running his first FORTRAN program with the new compiler here.

(Bright gives the date as Friday, April 20, 1957, but April 20 fell on a Saturday that year. It seems more plausible that he correctly remembered the day of the week—he says it was late on a Friday afternoon—than that he remembered the day of the month, so it was probably Friday, April 19, 1957.)

For more history, see Twenty Five Years of FORTRAN by J. A. N. Lee written in 1982.

Thanks to On This Day in Math for the story.

6 thoughts on “The first FORTRAN program

  1. Could you get a working link to the original account on the blog somewhere? Shortened links are worthless.

  2. fortran ? So I can remember when I was young !! We cold do more with fortran and less than 1M of RAM, than now with a lot of tools and Gigas, but a lot of a bullshit managers and bureaucracy!

  3. …and I’m still writing FORTRAN today. Yeah, I’m supposed to write new stuff in c++, but nothing is really new, is it? It’s a 30-year-old SCADA system that has been ported from Modcomp to VAX to Alpha to Linux, through Y2K, transitioned from being 2-byte integer based to 4-byte, and with a comm process that allow people to get data into Excel or web pages, and allows us to use an OPC program on Windows to read and write from/to it. In two years the Fortran will be gone, I suppose, as we’re already working on the transition, but the only real advantage to transitioning (a big one!) is that the Fortran compiler we use is no longer supported. Time marches on, after all.

  4. Thanks … that reminded me of my days in the Georgia Tech computer center with the 029 and 026 punch and FORTRAN IV on the CDC Cyber 74! I was hooked. They had to keep throwing me out of the computer center at 4am!

  5. am i the only one who thought machine code was fun? and efficient? and then along came my worst nightmare, RPG!

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