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Scientific Programming
Volume 15 (2007), Issue 1, Pages 3-8

Scientific Programming in Fortran

W. Van Snyder

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA

Received 22 May 2007; Accepted 22 May 2007

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Fortran programming language was designed by John Backus and his colleagues at IBM to reduce the cost of programming scientific applications. IBM delivered the first compiler for its model 704 in 1957. IBM's competitors soon offered incompatible versions. ANSI (ASA at the time) developed a standard, largely based on IBM's Fortran IV in 1966. Revisions of the standard were produced in 1977, 1990, 1995 and 2003. Development of a revision, scheduled for 2008, is under way. Unlike most other programming languages, Fortran is periodically revised to keep pace with developments in language and processor design, while revisions largely preserve compatibility with previous versions. Throughout, the focus on scientific programming, and especially on efficient generated programs, has been maintained.