The birth of the FORTRAN II subroutine

By comparing three versions of the memo (unsigned, but believed written by Irv Ziller) “Proposed Specifications for FORTRAN II for the 704″, dated August 28, September 25, and November 18, 1957, you can watch the design of the subroutine feature of FORTRAN II unfold.

Also: separate compilation.

Classic LISP books online

Two more classic Lisp books are now online at the Computer History Museum:

  • John McCarthy, Paul W. Abrahams, Daniel J. Edwards, Timothy P. Hart and Michael I. Levin. LISP 1.5 Programmer’s Manual. The M.I.T. Press, 1962, second edition. PDF
  • Berkeley and Bobrow, editors. The Programming Language LISP: Its Operation and Applications. Information International, Inc., March 1964 and The MIT Press, April 1966. PDF

Happy Birthday, PHP...

As Slashdot observes, PHP was born 10 years ago on June 8th 1995.

It's had its knockers, but it's running this site...

Richard Hamming - "You and Your Research"

During a discussion on the subject of passion in programming, David Bremner on #haskell pointed out Richard Hamming's 1986 talk You and Your Research. Here's a taste:

At Los Alamos I was brought in to run the computing machines which other people had got going, so those scientists and physicists could get back to business. I saw I was a stooge. I saw that although physically I was the same, they were different. And to put the thing bluntly, I was envious. I wanted to know why they were so different from me. I saw Feynman up close. I saw Fermi and Teller. I saw Oppenheimer. I saw Hans Bethe: he was my boss. I saw quite a few very capable people. I became very interested in the difference between those who do and those who might have done.

Hamming clearly describes both the difference between the two and how you can be one of those who do.

FORTRAN pilot project

(via Paul McJones)

The FORTRAN pilot project is an effort of the Museum's Software Collection Committee to develop expertise in the collection, preservation, and presentation of historic software. The specific goal of this project was to locate source code, design documents, and other materials concerning the original IBM 704 FORTRAN compiler. The justification for this particular goal is that FORTRAN was the first high-level programming language and the first high-quality optimizing compiler.

Quite a bit of interesting stuff to read here.

Online computer science archives

We've been talking about how good a lot of the stuff in computer science over the past 50 years or so has been. Here are links to some excellent free online archives that I've found out about.

Please let us know what good stuff you find in here, and if you know some other good free archives. There's a huge amount of good stuff tucked away waiting to be rediscovered on LtU.

Barbara Partee: Reflections of a Formal Semanticist as of Feb 2005

What follows will be a very subjective and personal view, as much my own history and development in the field and how things looked through my eyes as about the development of the field itself.

This essay is a longer version of the introductory essay in (Partee 2004). The introductory essay was first written in this long form in February 2003, but had to be cut down to about half the size to fit in the book...

This essay is about natural language semantics, but you'll find old friends here: lambdas, bindings, types, quantifiers etc. If you are lazy, go directly to footnote 25...

No surprise, really, if you follow the links we give here from time to time about TLGs and such.


Stanford technical report number 26 by George E. Forsythe, 1965.

I consider computer science to be the art and science of exploiting automatic digital computers, and of creating the technology necessary to understand their use. It deals with such related problems as the design of better machines using known components, the design and implementation of adequate software systems for communication between man and machine, and the design and analysis of methods of representing information by abstract symbols and of processes for manipulating these symbols. Computer science must also concern itself with such theoretical subjects supporting this technology as information theory, the logic of the finitely constructable, numerical mathematical analysis, and the psychology of problem solving. Naturally, these theoretical subjects are shared by computer science with such disciplines as philosophy, mathematics, and psychology.

DanFest 2004 - in honor of Dan Friedman

On December 3rd and 4th, 2004, the Computer Science Department at Indiana University hosted a conference to celebrate Daniel P. Friedman's 60th birthday. The DanFest web page has the program, links to some of the papers, and photos.

Dan Friedman, of course, is a CS professor at Indiana and an influential programming language researcher and teacher, best known to a wider audience as the lead author of EOPL, used in many PL courses. Who do you get to speak at a conference in honor of the author of a book so famous it is recognizable by its acronym? Why, the authors of the other famous acronymized books in the same field, of course, such as SICP, HTDP, and TSPL.

The keynote address, "Dan Friedman: Cool Ideas", was delivered by Guy Steele, and the star-studded program included authors of the above books, and many previous students of Friedman's. An article in the Indiana student newspaper provides some of Friedman's perspective on the event.

The speaker list also included a couple of (semi-)regular LtU'ers, Oleg Kiselyov and Kevin Millikin (did I miss anyone?) My thanks to Oleg for prompting me to post this.

Bitsavers' Archive

Via Dusty Decks we find bitsavers.org which contains scanned copies of manuals as well as historic source code and software.

Some of the manuals are for programming languages like Algol and Fortran, of course.

Seems like a good site to bookmark.

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