Published: March 19, 2007
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.
His daughter Karen Backus announced the death, saying the family did not know the cause, other than age.
Fortran, released in 1957, was \ufffdthe turning point\ufffd 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.
Things have changed so quickly... Imagine reading the obituary of the person who invented English.