Research and Advances

History and summary of FORTRAN standardization development for the ASA

The American Standards Association (ASA) Sectional Committee X3 for Computers and Information Processing was established in 1960 under the sponsorship of the Business Equipment Manufacturers Association. ASA X 3 in turn established an X3.4 Sectional Subcommittee to work in the area of common programming language standards. On May 17, 1962, X3.4 established by resolution a working group, X3.4.3-FORTRAN to develop American Standard FORTRAN proposals.


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“The FORTRAN language is intended to be capable of expressing any problem of numerical computation. In particular, it deals easily with problems containing large sets of formulae and many variables, and it permits any variable to have up to three independent subscripts. However, for problems in which machine words have a logical rather than a numerical meaning it is less satisfactory, and it may fail entirely to express some such problems. Nevertheless, many logical operations not directly expressable in the FORTRAN language can be obtained by making use of provisions for incorporating library routines.” This quotation is taken from “The FORTRAN Automatic Coding System for the IBM 704 EDPM,” dated October 15, 1956. This first manual was a programmer's reference manual issued by the Programming Research Department of IBM. The original system and the original manual were the work of J. W. Backus, R. J. Beeber, S. Best, R. Goldberg, H. L. Herrick, R. A. Hughes (U.C.R.L., Livermore), L. B. Mitchell, R. A. Nelson, R. Nutt (United Aircraft), D. Sayre, P. B. Sheridan, H. Stern, and I. Ziller; all were associated with IBM except as noted.

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