Chapter

Tower of Babel

Nathan Ensmenger

in The Computer Boys Take Over

Published by The MIT Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780262050937
Published online August 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780262289351 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262050937.003.0004
Tower of Babel

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This chapter examines the emergence of programming languages as a means of managing the complexity of the programming process. It traces the development of several of the most prominent automatic programming languages including FORTRAN and COBOL and evaluates their significance as potential solutions to the software crisis of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The analysis indicates that while programming languages reduced the amount of clerical work associated with programming, they did not eliminate certain types of errors and even introduced new ones.

Keywords: programming languages; programming process; FORTRAN; COBOL; software crisis; clerical work; errors

Chapter.  9192 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Museums, Libraries, and Information Sciences

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