Read “The FORTRAN of John Backus” on the History of Computers site to learn more about the inventor of the programming language. 

Check out a treasure trove of primary sources on FORTRAN I and II, preserved by the Software Preservation Group of the CHM.  

For broader information on higher-level computer languages, check out this page from the Computer History Museum.

This “FORTRAN Computing Language” page hosted by University of Michigan provides a history of FORTRAN, example programs and related links.


The Computer History Museum provides three videos on the history of programming. “The Art of Writing Software” provides a finely crafted ten-minute overview of the historical software developments, from FORTRAN to modern data organization. The other two videos are brief snippets from interviews with software pioneer Don Knuth, discussing his first program, and open-source programmer Jamie Zawinski, expounding on the similarities between prose and programming.

Watch The History of FORTRAN Part 1,” a five-minute introduction to the people who worked on FORTRAN. It cuts off abruptly and there is no Part 2.


Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, 168-173 (also discusses Grace Hopper’s role in developing and promoting the compiler)