• =?UTF-8?Q?=22How_John_Backus=e2=80=99_Fortran_Beat_the_Machine_Code?= =

    From Lynn McGuire@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jul 5 18:29:37 2022
    "How John Backus’ Fortran Beat the Machine Code ‘Priesthood’" by David Cassel

    https://thenewstack.io/how-john-backus-fortran-beat-machine-codes-priesthood/

    "John Backus one of the founding forefathers of early computer
    programming, and in many ways set the stage for modern programming
    languages."

    "Backus led the team that developed the Fortran programming language in
    1957, still touted today as “the first high-level programming language”
    on web pages at IBM. As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to
    be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits that triggered actions inside the machine.”"

    Lynn

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  • From Robin Vowels@21:1/5 to Lynn McGuire on Tue Jul 5 20:21:50 2022
    On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 9:29:41 AM UTC+10, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    "How John Backus’ Fortran Beat the Machine Code ‘Priesthood’" by David Cassel

    https://thenewstack.io/how-john-backus-fortran-beat-machine-codes-priesthood/

    "John Backus one of the founding forefathers of early computer
    programming, and in many ways set the stage for modern programming languages."

    "Backus led the team that developed the Fortran programming language in 1957, still touted today as “the first high-level programming language” on web pages at IBM. As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits that triggered actions inside the machine.”"

    That is false. Already at the University of Manchester, England in 1952,
    the first autocode was in use.
    An improved form, the Mark I autocode, was implemented in 1955.
    In 1955, GIP was already in use on Pilot ACE. No knowledge of machine
    code was required to write the instructions for GIP.

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  • From Louis Krupp@21:1/5 to Robin Vowels on Wed Jul 6 01:55:15 2022
    On 7/5/2022 9:21 PM, Robin Vowels wrote:
    On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 9:29:41 AM UTC+10, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    "How John Backus’ Fortran Beat the Machine Code ‘Priesthood’" by David >> Cassel

    https://thenewstack.io/how-john-backus-fortran-beat-machine-codes-priesthood/

    "John Backus one of the founding forefathers of early computer
    programming, and in many ways set the stage for modern programming
    languages."

    "Backus led the team that developed the Fortran programming language in
    1957, still touted today as “the first high-level programming language” >> on web pages at IBM. As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to >> be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits >> that triggered actions inside the machine.”"
    That is false. Already at the University of Manchester, England in 1952,
    the first autocode was in use.
    An improved form, the Mark I autocode, was implemented in 1955.
    In 1955, GIP was already in use on Pilot ACE. No knowledge of machine
    code was required to write the instructions for GIP.

    I'm going to hazard a guess that obituary writers tend not to know much
    about computer science and computer science practitioners tend not to
    write obituaries.

    Louis

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  • From jfh@21:1/5 to Louis Krupp on Wed Jul 6 15:00:32 2022
    On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 7:55:18 PM UTC+12, Louis Krupp wrote:
    On 7/5/2022 9:21 PM, Robin Vowels wrote:
    On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 9:29:41 AM UTC+10, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    "How John Backus’ Fortran Beat the Machine Code ‘Priesthood’" by David
    Cassel

    https://thenewstack.io/how-john-backus-fortran-beat-machine-codes-priesthood/

    "John Backus one of the founding forefathers of early computer
    programming, and in many ways set the stage for modern programming
    languages."

    "Backus led the team that developed the Fortran programming language in >> 1957, still touted today as “the first high-level programming language”
    on web pages at IBM. As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to
    be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits
    that triggered actions inside the machine.”"
    That is false. Already at the University of Manchester, England in 1952, the first autocode was in use.
    An improved form, the Mark I autocode, was implemented in 1955.
    In 1955, GIP was already in use on Pilot ACE. No knowledge of machine
    code was required to write the instructions for GIP.
    I'm going to hazard a guess that obituary writers tend not to know much about computer science and computer science practitioners tend not to
    write obituaries.

    Louis

    Bruce Payne was a Manchester PhD student in the early 1950s doing numerical fluid mechanics (see Payne, R.B. 1958: J.Fluid Mech. 4, 81-86). He told me years later
    'I shared an office with Turing. The machine wrote numbers in base 32 backwards.
    " I found both those sentences surprising. (I first used a computer myself in 1963, using
    Fortran II. A few months later I had access to one using Algol 60. Wasn’t it Backus who
    said when someone asked him whether Fortran or Algol was the better language “I didn’t write a worse language than I had already written” ?

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  • From Thomas Koenig@21:1/5 to Lynn McGuire on Thu Jul 7 06:15:25 2022
    Lynn McGuire <lynnmcguire5@gmail.com> schrieb:
    "How John Backus’ Fortran Beat the Machine Code ‘Priesthood’" by David Cassel

    https://thenewstack.io/how-john-backus-fortran-beat-machine-codes-priesthood/

    "John Backus one of the founding forefathers of early computer
    programming, and in many ways set the stage for modern programming languages."

    "Backus led the team that developed the Fortran programming language in
    1957, still touted today as “the first high-level programming language” on web pages at IBM. As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to
    be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits that triggered actions inside the machine.”"

    "Abstracting Away The Machine" presents a more nuanced view.
    At the time, there even was strong resistance to _not_ programming
    in machine code, even assemblers were frowned upon even by John
    von Neumann, because he thought it a waste of computer time and
    optimization possibility.

    Fortran introduced three main concepts:

    - Arithmetic notation (which was revolutionary at the time), and
    they had not even invented recursive descent

    - A highly optimizing compiler, which often made code speed
    comparable to those of an assembler

    - Portability between different machines - not long after Fortran
    for the 704, a version for the 650 was made, and many other
    computer manufacturers followed suit.

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  • From Lynn McGuire@21:1/5 to Thomas Koenig on Thu Jul 7 13:28:19 2022
    On 7/7/2022 1:15 AM, Thomas Koenig wrote:
    Lynn McGuire <lynnmcguire5@gmail.com> schrieb:
    "How John Backus’ Fortran Beat the Machine Code ‘Priesthood’" by David >> Cassel

    https://thenewstack.io/how-john-backus-fortran-beat-machine-codes-priesthood/

    "John Backus one of the founding forefathers of early computer
    programming, and in many ways set the stage for modern programming
    languages."

    "Backus led the team that developed the Fortran programming language in
    1957, still touted today as “the first high-level programming language” >> on web pages at IBM. As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to >> be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits >> that triggered actions inside the machine.”"

    "Abstracting Away The Machine" presents a more nuanced view.
    At the time, there even was strong resistance to _not_ programming
    in machine code, even assemblers were frowned upon even by John
    von Neumann, because he thought it a waste of computer time and
    optimization possibility.

    Fortran introduced three main concepts:

    - Arithmetic notation (which was revolutionary at the time), and
    they had not even invented recursive descent

    - A highly optimizing compiler, which often made code speed
    comparable to those of an assembler

    - Portability between different machines - not long after Fortran
    for the 704, a version for the 650 was made, and many other
    computer manufacturers followed suit.

    I remember when we got our new operating system, Fortran IV compiler,
    Cobol compiler, and Line Editor for our Prime 450 in 1976 or 1977. The
    release had the source code for everything. I loaded the source code
    tape and looked through all of the source code. It was simply amazing.

    Lynn

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  • From Quadibloc@21:1/5 to Thomas Koenig on Sun Jul 17 07:10:06 2022
    On Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 12:15:28 AM UTC-6, Thomas Koenig wrote:

    "Abstracting Away The Machine" presents a more nuanced view.

    I took a look at that book. It turns out, though, that it has some inaccuracies as well.

    "Punched cards with round holes had reached their zenith - 45 columns."

    Actually, to avoid IBM's patent on the 80-column card, 65-column cards with smaller round holes were used by some computer companies in Britain.

    Later, it speaks of "two inventors at IBM", one who invented the rectangular hole, "more structurally sound" (absolutely untrue; 80-column cards with too many holes in them are notoriously fragile) and one who would allow a single hole in the card to "represent more than one character".

    Now, that would have been a miracle of data compression!

    I think what that other inventor at IBM must have _actually_ invented... was what Univac used in their 90 column cards, where each of the 45 _columns_ represented
    more than one character.

    John Savard

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  • From Quadibloc@21:1/5 to Lynn McGuire on Sun Jul 17 07:16:06 2022
    On Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at 5:29:41 PM UTC-6, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits that triggered actions inside the machine.”"

    Not only did assemblers exist prior to FORTRAN, but so did higher-level languages.

    Here, "Abstracting Away the Machine" gets it right:
    "the first mature high-level language to achieve widespread adoption".

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    COBOL was the product of a *committee*, and it incorporated a lot
    from IBM's Commercial Translator as well as from FLOW-MATIC.

    No doubt Grace Hopper was part of that committee, but to give her
    credit for inventing COBOL the way John Backus invented FORTRAN
    is, I think, in error, but a lot of accounts these days do so.

    John Savard

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  • From gah4@21:1/5 to Quadibloc on Sun Jul 17 09:29:24 2022
    On Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 7:16:08 AM UTC-7, Quadibloc wrote:

    (snip)

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    As well as I know it, Fortran was the first with multiple character
    variable names. Seems so obvious, but mathematicians still use single character variables.

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  • From Robin Vowels@21:1/5 to Quadibloc on Sun Jul 17 10:01:03 2022
    On Monday, July 18, 2022 at 12:16:08 AM UTC+10, Quadibloc wrote:
    On Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at 5:29:41 PM UTC-6, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    As the Associated Press wrote — half a century
    later — in an obituary for Backus, “Prior to Fortran, computers had to be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ — programmed in the raw strings of digits
    that triggered actions inside the machine.”"
    Not only did assemblers exist prior to FORTRAN, but so did higher-level languages.

    Indeed. Elsethread I mentioned some.

    Here, "Abstracting Away the Machine" gets it right:
    "the first mature high-level language to achieve widespread adoption".

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    COBOL was the product of a *committee*, and it incorporated a lot
    from IBM's Commercial Translator as well as from FLOW-MATIC.

    No doubt Grace Hopper was part of that committee, but to give her
    credit for inventing COBOL the way John Backus invented FORTRAN
    is, I think, in error, but a lot of accounts these days do so.

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  • From Lynn McGuire@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jul 17 16:34:52 2022
    On 7/17/2022 11:29 AM, gah4 wrote:
    On Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 7:16:08 AM UTC-7, Quadibloc wrote:

    (snip)

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    As well as I know it, Fortran was the first with multiple character
    variable names. Seems so obvious, but mathematicians still use single character variables.

    Everyone knows that T = temperature, P = pressure, and F = flow. More
    advanced users know that V = vapor and B = liquid.

    Lynn

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  • From FortranFan@21:1/5 to Lynn McGuire on Sun Jul 17 19:24:14 2022
    On Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 5:35:11 PM UTC-4, Lynn McGuire wrote:

    On 7/17/2022 11:29 AM, gah4 wrote:
    ..
    As well as I know it, Fortran was the first with multiple character variable names. Seems so obvious, but mathematicians still use single character variables.
    Everyone knows that T = temperature, P = pressure, and F = flow. More advanced users know that V = vapor and B = liquid.


    I guess chemical engineers, many likely among the customers of WinSim, Inc., are not "advanced users"!

    For they seem to only "know" L = liquid!

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  • From Thomas Koenig@21:1/5 to Lynn McGuire on Mon Jul 18 05:44:58 2022
    Lynn McGuire <lynnmcguire5@gmail.com> schrieb:
    On 7/17/2022 11:29 AM, gah4 wrote:
    On Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 7:16:08 AM UTC-7, Quadibloc wrote:

    (snip)

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    As well as I know it, Fortran was the first with multiple character
    variable names. Seems so obvious, but mathematicians still use single
    character variables.

    Everyone knows that T = temperature, P = pressure, and F = flow. More advanced users know that V = vapor and B = liquid.

    Lucky is the person that only has a single temperature and a single
    pressure in a process :-)

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  • From Robin Vowels@21:1/5 to Lynn McGuire on Mon Jul 18 02:53:50 2022
    On Monday, July 18, 2022 at 7:35:11 AM UTC+10, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    On 7/17/2022 11:29 AM, gah4 wrote:
    On Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 7:16:08 AM UTC-7, Quadibloc wrote:

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    As well as I know it, Fortran was the first with multiple character variable names. Seems so obvious, but mathematicians still use single character variables.

    Everyone knows that T = temperature, P = pressure, and F = flow. More advanced users know that V = vapor and B = liquid.

    Really?

    And PI ? Theta? Alpha? Beta?

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  • From gah4@21:1/5 to Thomas Koenig on Mon Jul 18 03:41:10 2022
    On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 11:15:28 PM UTC-7, Thomas Koenig wrote:

    (snip)

    - A highly optimizing compiler, which often made code speed
    comparable to those of an assembler

    (snip)

    As well as I know it, this was the important one.

    As noted, there were other high-level languages, but people
    weren't using them. They weren't fast enough.

    An optimizing compiler with execution speed comparable
    to assembly programming was needed to make the
    transition. It seems hard for us now, when computers
    are faster, and speed of writing is more important than
    execution speed.

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  • From jfh@21:1/5 to Robin Vowels on Mon Jul 18 14:57:18 2022
    On Monday, July 18, 2022 at 9:53:52 PM UTC+12, Robin Vowels wrote:
    On Monday, July 18, 2022 at 7:35:11 AM UTC+10, Lynn McGuire wrote:
    On 7/17/2022 11:29 AM, gah4 wrote:
    On Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 7:16:08 AM UTC-7, Quadibloc wrote:

    Before FORTRAN, there were, for example, MATH-MATIC and
    FLOW-MATIC. Those where the languages Grace Hopper worked on.

    As well as I know it, Fortran was the first with multiple character variable names. Seems so obvious, but mathematicians still use single character variables.

    Everyone knows that T = temperature, P = pressure, and F = flow. More advanced users know that V = vapor and B = liquid.

    Really?

    And PI ? Theta? Alpha? Beta?
    Not to mention gamma, which is Euler's constant or the ratio of specific heats, and upper-case Gamma, which is the gamma function or surface excess.

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  • From Quadibloc@21:1/5 to All on Thu Jul 21 00:24:05 2022
    On Monday, July 18, 2022 at 4:41:12 AM UTC-6, gah4 wrote:
    It seems hard for us now, when computers
    are faster, and speed of writing is more important than
    execution speed.

    Surely the fact that computers are _cheaper_ is even more
    important for this than the fact that they are faster.

    Of course, it could also be claimed that these are but two
    ways of saying the same thing (since if a fast computer is
    as cheap as a slow one was, that is computers getting
    faster).

    John Savard

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  • From gah4@21:1/5 to Quadibloc on Thu Jul 21 03:04:52 2022
    On Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 12:24:07 AM UTC-7, Quadibloc wrote:
    On Monday, July 18, 2022 at 4:41:12 AM UTC-6, gah4 wrote:
    It seems hard for us now, when computers
    are faster, and speed of writing is more important than
    execution speed.

    Surely the fact that computers are _cheaper_ is even more
    important for this than the fact that they are faster.

    Well, this has been the important question for recent years.

    Computers have mostly stopped getting faster, and instead we
    have multiple core processors. Some software works with more
    than one core, other is single core only.

    If computers didn't get faster, but instead just cheaper, we could
    have something like the IBM 704 for $0.01 each, and we would
    buy 100,000 of them each.

    Now, there are complications with the comparison, including
    that we would be stuck with punched cards 60 years later,
    and also difference in the speed of I/O devices vs. processors.

    On the other hand, if computers stayed expensive but got faster,
    we would have figured out better and faster time-share systems.

    (There are physics problems with the comparison, related to the
    speed of light in large processors.)

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