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A Revisionist Account of Early Language Development
April 1998 (vol. 31 no. 4)
pp. 22-25
In the 1950s, there was a good deal of discussion at computer conferences about what was then known as automatic programming. This led to Fortran, which was developed by a group within IBM who had strictly pragmatic aims. They saw a clear need for some system that would enable the labor of programming to be reduced. The scientific study of programming languages began slightly later with the publication of the Algol 60 report. This was put together by an international committee whose aims were essentially intellectual. They set out to design a language that was elegant in a mathematical sense and would enable scientists to specify a computation without concerning themselves about practical details. Together, Fortran and Algol define a fault line that runs through the study of programming languages that we are now only beginning to bridge.
Maurice V. Wilkes, "A Revisionist Account of Early Language Development," Computer, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 22-25, April 1998, doi:10.1109/2.666838
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