John W. Backus, 82, Fortran Developer, Dies
John W. Backus, who assembled and led the I.B.M. team that created Fortran, the first widely used programming language, which helped open the door to modern computing, died on Saturday at his home in Ashland, Ore. He was 82.That same year in order to fulfill a requirement for an upper level humanity I took a philosophy course called Introduction to Boolean Algebra. In 1979 I was working as a manufacturing engineer for Tektronix. The decision was made to make use of the new technological kid on the block, the microprocessor, to make controls for the manufacturing process. Since I had some "computer experience" it was decided that I would learn the assmebly language used to program that early controller. Much to my amazement much of it was that same Boolean Algebra I had learned in that philosophy class more than 15 years earlier.
Fortran, released in 1957, was “the turning point” in computer software, much as the microprocessor was a giant step forward in hardware, according to J.A.N. Lee, a leading computer historian.
Fortran changed the terms of communication between humans and computers, moving up a level to a language that was more comprehensible by humans. So Fortran, in computing vernacular, is considered the first successful higher-level language.