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Happy 60th birthday, Fortran

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Development

The Fortran compiler, introduced in April 1957, was the first optimizing compiler, and it paved the way for many technical computing applications over the years. What Cobol did for business computing, Fortran did for scientific computing.

Fortran may be approaching retirement age, but that doesn't mean it's about to stop working. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first Fortran (then styled "FORTRAN," for "FORmula TRANslation") release.

Even if you can't write a single line of it, you use Fortran every day: Operational weather forecast models are still largely written in Fortran, for example. Its focus on mathematical performance makes Fortran a common language in many high-performance computing applications, including computational fluid dynamics and computational chemistry. Although Fortran may not have the same popular appeal as newer languages, those languages owe much to the pioneering work of the Fortran development team.

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