[TUHS] Happy birthday, John Backus!

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Mon Dec 3 08:34:06 AEST 2018

On 2018-12-02 5:17 PM, Dave Horsfall wrote:
> As every computer programmer should know, John Backus was emitted in
> 1924; he gave us the BNF syntax (he is the "B"), but he also gave us
> that FORTRAN obscenity...  Yeah, it was a nice language at the time; the
> engineers loved it, but tthe computer scientists hated it (have you ever
> tried to debug a FORTRAN program that somebody else wrote?).

He made amends by being early to recognise that problem, and propose
solutions, in his 1977 ACM Turing Award lecture (still perfectly
relevant today):



> Trivia: there is no way that FORTRAN can be described in any syntax; it
> is completely ad-hoc.
> -- Dave

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