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“You can program FORTRAN in any language.”
FORTRAN (which stands for FORgive me TRANsistors) was invented by John Bacchus, the Vice President of Distilled Grapes of IBM, in the mid-1950s.
Predecessors of FORTRAN were used in the late 1890s to program Babbage's Analytical Engine. A very primitive FORTRAN was used around 2500 BC to program abacuses in Sumeria.
FORTRAN was the first complex language spoken by humans. Prior to the invention of FORTRAN, humans were only capable of uttering 1s or 0s, or obscure grunts like "push" and "pop". It is believed that nearly simultaneous to the invention of FORTRAN, a group of evildoers invented a language named COBOL, but there is no accounting for this.
Although the first versions of FORTRAN were not capable of modern lexical structure, the invention of FORTRAN nevertheless sparked an explosion in human literature. For the first time, engineers and scientists were capable of expressing themselves. Many simulations and finite elephant codes were written in the FORTRAN language. There is strong evidence that the Bible was originally written in FORTRAN, as ancient sacred texts found at sites LLNL and LANL in the California and New Mexico deserts bear the title "Numerical Recipes in FORTRAN".
A high-level language, FORTRAN is modelled on the natural language used by its inventors, formal logicians and matrix mathmagicians. It offers such features as native multi-dimensional arrays, good support for autovectorization, a complex number type, and exuberant comments.
FORTRAN around the world
FORTRAN is often used as a trade pidgin in the archipelagos of the South Pacific and the slums of Istanbul. There are indications that it is undergoing creolization; the emerging language has been given the working name CPL by computer linguists.
Decline of FORTRAN
FORTRAN enjoyed great popularity during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the VAX was at its peak among people wearing ties and lab coats and working in clean rooms with raised floors with air conditioning below them. At its high point, FORTRAN was used for writing high-end games such as the classics, ADVENTURE, EMPIRE, and even PONG. These games provided permanent proof that no one needs a Graphic User Interface; making pictures on a text video terminal is quite acceptable. FORTRAN was also used occasionally to model and predict the weather, but no one needed this done either.
Unfortunately, the success of FORTRAN did not last forever, due to modern programming languages such as C, plus, plus, and Java, which gave programmers much more flexibility: It is simply not possible to construct many integer variable names that refer to sex organs when the first letter must be from I through N.
The last FORTRAN user in civilization died in 1999, but FORTRAN is still be used by several obscure tribes that learned the language from survivors of airplane crashes. These "cargo cults" erroneously believed that the existence of runways was what caused cargo planes to land during World War II; and inside their bamboo "control towers," they still program coconut "computers" in FORTRAN.