John Backus, the inventor of FORTRAN, has written his last line of code.
FORTRAN wasn’t my first language. When I started engineering school in Ann Arbor, they told me I had to learn a programming language, but they didn’t say which one, so I took a CS course in which we were inducted into the programming world with ALGOL. I used it to write a simulation of heat transfer, with no problems, though the engineering professor didn’t know the language. But I had to take a graduate course in numeric analysis, in which one had to write in FORTRAN, to be able to interact with the instructor’s subroutines, so I went to a few free lectures on it that he held at night for the general student population (and in fact public). After learning how to program in a structured language, I was appalled at DO loops and gotos, and their potential for spaghetti. I’ve used it quite a bit since, but still try to use as much structure as whatever version allows. Still, as the article notes, it was a huge breakthrough in making computers practical.
And here, courtesy of wikipedia, are a few FORTRAN jokes:
* “GOD is REAL unless declared INTEGER.”
* Joke, circa 1980 (following the standardization of FORTRAN 77): “Q: What will the scientific programming language of the year 2000 look like? … A: Nobody knows, but its name will be FORTRAN.”
* A good FORTRAN programmer can write FORTRAN code in any language.
* Computer Science without FORTRAN and COBOL is like birthday cake without ketchup and mustard.