Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

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Today: July 24, 2014
John Backus

December 3, 1924

John Backus Born

John Warner Backus is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1949 he graduated from Columbia University and immediately joined IBM as a programmer. Backus led a team that created FORTRAN, the first successful high-level programming language which became commercially available in 1957. In 1959 he invented the Backus Naur Form (BNF), a standard notation to describe the syntax of a high level programming language. His third major contribution to computer science was to develop a functional programming language called FP, which advocates a mathematical approach to programming. Backus received the IEEE Computer Society Pioneer Award in 1980, and in 1994 was awarded the National Academy of Engineers’ Draper Award.


CDC 7600

December 3, 1968

CDC Announces 7600 Supercomputer

Control Data Corporation announces its 7600 model, considered by some to be the first true supercomputer. The CDC 7600 calculated at a speed of nearly 40 megaflops. Seymour Cray designed this computer, as well as its predecessor, the 6600 that was popular with scientific researchers, and a successor, the 8600, which the company never marketed.