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Re: I. M. John W. Backus

From: Bruce C. Baker <>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 19:46:39 -0500
Message-ID: <ulkMh.22193$zJ1.9088@newsfe24.lga>

"Bob Badour" <> wrote in message news:DYjMh.13388$
> Bruce C. Baker wrote:
>> "Bob Badour" <> wrote in message
>> news:mDjMh.13375$
>>>It's odd that the obit got things so wrong. Fortran is a monstrosity --
>>>one of those abominable things that was just good enough. It's greatest
>>>achievement was to show how not to write a compiler. Backus more than
>>>redeemed himself a few years later by learning from fortran how to write
>>>a compiler when he and Peter Naur came up with BNF.
>> Compared to the languages and techniques we have today, the design and
>> implementation of the original Fortran (and C, and Pascal, and ...) are
>> pretty lame, but /compared to what preceded them/,
>> they weren't half bad.
>> Getting back on topic, one might even go so far as to say that SQL is the
>> Fortran of its day.
>> How about seasoning your future comments with a little dash of historical
>> perspective, Bob?
> In what way did my comments lack historical perspective? Fortran is an
> abominable monstrosity made all the more monstrous by its success. The
> only good purpose it served was to teach Backus how not to make compiliers
> so he could teach us all how to do it right.
> I am already aware SQL was disastrously successful too.

The Wright Brothers' original Flyer wasn't perfect either; that doesn't make it a "monstrosity".

I don't even know why I'm replying to this. Backus' achievements certainly don't need any defending by the likes of me! :-)

(I don't like to brag, but my first programming language was Fortran II on an IBM 1620, and I've also had the pleasure of being paid to program in Burroughs Extended Algol, so maybe, just /maybe/ I might know whereof I speak in re early PLs! ;-) )

>>>Fortran should be a side-note to BNF and not vice versa.
>>>(BNF is a very big contribution--more than enough to share.)
Received on Wed Mar 21 2007 - 19:46:39 CDT

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