Publisher Information: 1957.
[Backus, John W. (1924-2007).] (1) FORTRAN introductory programmer’s manual. Section I. New York: Programming Research Department, IBM, March 20, 1957. Reproduced typescript. , 37 pp. (2) FORTRAN introductory programmer’s manual. Section II. New York: Programming Research Department, IBM, April 10, 1957. Reproduced typescript. , 31 pp. (3) FORTRAN introductory programmer’s manual. Section III. New York: Programming Research Department, IBM, June 7, 1957. Reproduced typescript. , 28pp., 6ff., plus errata leaf. (4) Preliminary operator’s manual [for] the FORTRAN automatic coding system for the IBM 704 EDPM. Photocopy of typescript. New York: Programming Research Department, IBM, April 8, 1957. , 37ff. (5) Backus et al. The FORTRAN automatic coding system. N.p., n.d. . Reproduced typescript. 49 pp. (6) Backus. Typed letter signed (photocopy) to John Greenstadt. New York, April 24, 1957. 3ff. (7) Backus. Typed letter signed (photocopy) to Franz E. Ross. New York, May 7, 1957. 1 f. (8) FNEDT1. FORTRAN editing program. New York: Programming Research Department, IBM, May 8, 1957. Reproduced typescript. 3ff. Together 8 items in one volume. 274 x 211 mm. Cloth. Very good. Stamp and withdrawal markings of the Institut für Praktische Mathematik, Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt.
First Editions of all but no. (5). In our experience collecting and dealing in the history of computing literature for the past 30 years, this is the only copy of these founding publications on Fortran that has been available on the market.
“Originally developed by IBM for scientific and engineering applications, FORTRAN came to subsequently dominate scientific computing. It has been in use for over six decades in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finie element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, geophysics, computational physics, crystallography and computational chemistry. It remains a popular language for high-performance computing, and is used for programs that benchmark and rank the world’s fastest supercomputers” (Wikipedia).
Backus was the leader of the IBM team that created FORTRAN, the first high-level programming language. The FORTRAN language was completed in late 1954, and a FORTRAN compiler was programmed and tested in 1955–56. Shipment of the FORTRAN system began in April 1957 to IBM 704 users, most of whom gave it high marks. “A year later a SHARE survey of twenty-six 704 installations revealed that over half were using it for a majority of their problems . . . Productivity studies at the General Motors Research Laboratories installation showed that compared to assembly language FORTRAN reduced programming and coding effort by a factor of between five and ten” (Bashe et al., IBM’s Early Computers, p. 357). Although FORTRAN originated as an IBM product, within two decades it had become the property of the computer world at large.
The three sections of the FORTRAN Introductory Programmer’s Manual (nos.  – ) were distributed in advance of publication “to permit [their] easy use for teaching purposes.” No. (4) was distributed with the first FORTRAN system tapes; “it describes how to use the tape editor and how to maintain the library of functions. Five pages of such general instructions are followed by thirty-two pages of error stops” (Backus, p. 40). No. (5) is a reprint of a paper published in the 1957 Proceedings of the Western Joint Computer Conference, nos. (6) – (7) are copies of letters Backus sent to members of IBM’s SHARE program, and no. (8) is a program for producing “an up-to-date FORTRAN system tape from an original master tape and an up-to-date correction deck.” Backus, “The history of FORTRAN I, II and III,” in R. L. Wexelblat, ed. History of Programming Languages, pp. 25–45. Origins of Cyberspace 447 (this copy).Book Id: 46117