Fortran Software Development

Fortran Programming Language

  • First introduced by IBM in 1950s
  • First commercially successful high level language
  • Initially developed to support mathematical, engineering, and scientific applications
  • Over 40 compilers developed by 1960s supporting various hardware platforms
  • In use today producing highly efficient software

Fortran was first introduced by IBM in April, 1957. Fortran was invented by a team of IBM employees led by John Backus. Fortran was developed specifically for the development of mathematical, scientific, and engineering applications, and to rid the developers of the minutia and complexity of learning assembly languages and writing assembly language software. Thus the developer's need, to concern themselves of the idiosyncrasies of a specific processor when developing software, was reduced.

Fortran was a significant, ground breaking compiler. It was the first successful, commercially available high level language, and the basis for most high level languages that followed. The development team was lead by John Backus and included Sheldon Best, Harlan Herrick, Peter Sheridan, Roy Nutt, Robert Nelson, Irving Ziller, Richard Goldberg, Lois Haibt and David Sayre.

As Fortran gained in popularity, other computer manufacturers began to support the Fortran language with their own version of a Fortran compiler. By 1963, over forty compilers had been released for various computing platforms. As deviations arose between the various compilers, the first standardization effort was completed in the early 1970s. The net result was that Fortran programs could be written and easily ported to other computer architectures.

Over the years Fortran standards have evolved to take advantage of new evolving programming techniques employed by other programming languages. Numerous releases of Fortran have occurred over the years, including Fortran I, Fortran II, Fortran IV, Fortran 66, Fortran 77, Fortran 90, and Fortran 95. Well over 50 years after it's first release Fortran is still in use and remains a very efficient compiler in developing high performance software.