The programming language Fortran celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To mark this occasion, a special issue of Scientific Programming on the role of Fortran is dedicated to Fortran creator John Backus and Ken Kennedy, pioneer of Fortran compiler optimization and parallelization. Both highly esteemed scientists died this year.

The language was designed by John Backus and his colleagues at IBM with the goal to reduce the cost of programming scientific applications by providing an ‘automatic programming system’ to replace assembly language with a notation closer to the scientific programming domain.

Although the first specification of the Fortran language was released in 1956, IBM delivered its first compiler for the computer, IBM model 704, in 1957, hence this year marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Fortran to users.

The first issue of the 15th volume of Scientific Programming is entitled ‘Fortran programming language and Scientific Programming: 50 years of mutual growth.’ Editor-in-Chief Boleslaw Szymanski: “Over half of the century of its existence, the evolving Fortran has been the traditional and major language for scientific programming and it has played a significant role in the research on programming languages and compilers for scientific computing.”