Backus, John Warner

Backus, John Warner,

1924–2007, American computer scientist, b. Philadelphia, grad. Columbia (M.A. 1950). Trained as a mathematician, he was hired (1950) by IBM Corp. as a computer programmer. From 1954 to 1957 he lead a team that developed FORTRAN [for FORmula TRANslation], the first successful high-level programming languageprogramming language,
syntax, grammar, and symbols or words used to give instructions to a computer. Development of Low-Level Languages

All computers operate by following machine language programs, a long sequence of instructions called machine code that is
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; it was designed for engineering and scientific applications. Fortran greatly eased computer programming by replacing the binary digits of machine language with algebraic symbols and English shorthand; a compiler converted the program into machine language. He retired from IBM in 1991. Backus also developed (1959) a system of notation for describing the syntax of high-level programming languages and was an advocate of functional programming, in which the emphasis is placed on describing a problem rather than specifying the steps required to solve it.