John Backus dies

John L <>
20 Mar 2007 08:42:58 -0400

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John Backus dies (John L) (2007-03-20)
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From: John L <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 20 Mar 2007 08:42:58 -0400
Organization: Compilers Central
Keywords: history, administrivia
Posted-Date: 20 Mar 2007 08:42:57 EDT

John Backus died on Saturday. He led the team that developed the
original Fortran compiler, and later was a leader in functional
programming. He's the B in BNF.

Fortran was a huge advance for compilers. Before Fortran, most people
thought that you'd always have to write programs in assembler if you
wanted them to run fast. After Fortran, we knew that wasn't true.

I met him once at a graduate seminar in about 1980. He was quite
charming, interested as always in all sorts of approaches to make
programming faster, easier, and more reliable.

The NY Times has a good obituary:

John Levine, comp.compilers moderator,,

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