Read this article (and perhaps the author's classic Go to: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Scientists and Iconoclasts who were the Hero Programmers of the Software Revolution) for insights on how Backus changed the world of software.
John W. Backus, who assembled and led the I.B.M. team that created Fortran, the first widely used programming language, which helped open the door to modern computing, died on Saturday at his home in Ashland, Ore. He was 82.
Source: John W. Backus, 82, Fortran Developer, Dies - New York Times
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