John Backus, leader of the IBM team that created Fortran...

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My first programming language in college was a Fortran program to list prime numbers.  I was a freshman (Fall 1969) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where I was an Aeronautical Engineering major for one quarter before I changed my major to Computer Science.  Last week, on Saturday March 17th, John W. Backus passed away at the age of 82.  I had the pleasure of meeting John Backus at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose California back in the days of Turbo Pascal 5.5 (with objects).  I was giving a lecture at the lab about our object oriented extensions to Pascal.

John Backus is also well known for the work he did with Peter Naur to create the Backus-Naur form better known as BNF, a standard notation for describing the syntax of programming languages.

John Backus continued to do programming language research at IBM in function-level programming, creating specification for the FP (Functional Programming) language in 1977.   John Backus, winner of the ACM Turing Award in 1977, presented FP in his award lecture titled, "Can Programming be liberated from the von Neumann Style? A Functional Style and its Algebra of Programs."

There are many other functional languages.  Many of you have probably heard of the Haskell functional programming language. There is a great history of the Haskell programming language available for download at Microsoft Research.

Thank you, John Backus (and IBM), for Fortran and the language's place at the beginning of my 37 years (and counting) in Computer Science and programming.


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David Intersimone (known to many as David I.) is a passionate and innovative software industry veteran-often referred to as a developer icon-who extols and educates the world on Embarcadero developer tools. He shares his visions as an active member of the industry speaking circuit and is tapped as an expert source by the media. He is a long-standing champion of architects, developers and database professionals and works to ensure that their needs are folded into Embarcadero's strategic product plans. David holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, California.

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