History of compiler construction

ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Glen Beck (background) and Betty Snyder (foreground) program the ENIAC in building 328 at the Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL).

“In computing, a compiler is a computer program that transforms source code written in a programming language or computer language (the source language), into another computer language (the target language, often having a binary form known as object code or machine code). The most common reason for transforming source code is to create an executable program. Any program written in a high-level programming language must be translated to object code before it can be executed, so all programmers using such a language use a compiler or an interpreter. Thus, compilers are very important to programmers. Improvements to a compiler may lead to a large number of improved features in executable programs. … Software for early computers was primarily written in assembly language, and before that directly in machine code. It is usually more productive for a programmer to use a high-level language, and programs written in a high-level language can be reused on different kinds of computers. Even so, it took a while for compilers to become established, because they generated code that did not perform as well as hand-written assembler, they were daunting development projects in their own right, and the very limited memory capacity of early computers created many technical problems for practical compiler implementations. … The first implemented compiler was written by Grace Hopper, who also coined the term ‘compiler’, referring to her A-0 system which functioned as a loader or linker, not the modern notion of a compiler. … The FORTRAN team led by John W. Backus at IBM introduced the first commercially available compiler, in 1957, which took 18 person-years to create. … By 1960, an extended Fortran compiler, ALTAC, was available on the Philco 2000, so it is probable that a Fortran program was compiled for both IBM and Philco computer architectures in mid-1960. The first known demonstrated cross-platform high-level language was COBOL. In a demonstration in December 1960, a COBOL program was compiled and executed on both the UNIVAC II and the RCA 501. …”
W – History of compiler construction
W – Compiler-compiler
W – Just-in-time compilation
Timeline of Computer History
YouTube: 1961 | IBM 7094 : First Computer To Sing, Daisy Bell, Ivan Sutherland Sketchpad Demo 1963, Graphic 1, a 1960s stylus-based graphical display system – AT&T Archives, 1968 “Mother of All Demos” by SRI’s Doug Engelbart and Team, The Incredible Machine (1968)

The Atlas Computer debuts – A joint project of England’s Manchester University, Ferranti Computers, and Plessey, Atlas comes online nine years after Manchester’s computer lab begins exploring transistor technology.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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