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Humor

Fortran related humor.
  • Consistently separating words by spaces became a general custom about the tenth century A. D., and lasted until about 1957, when FORTRAN abandoned the practice. (Sun FORTRAN Reference Manual)
  • “FORTRAN, the infantile disorder, by now nearly 20 years old, is hopelessly inadequate for whatever computer application you have in mind today: it is now too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use.”(Edsger W. Dijkstra, circa 1970, known for very strong opinions)
  • When X3J3 debated whether the minimum trip count for a DO loop should be zero or one in Fortran 77, Loren Meissner suggested a minimum trip count of two—reasoning (tongue-in-cheek) that if it was less than two then there would be no reason for a loop!
  • During the same FORTRAN standards committee meeting at which the name “FORTRAN 77” was chosen, a satirical technical proposal was incorporated into the official distribution bearing the title “Letter O Considered Harmful”. This proposal purported to address the confusion that sometimes arises between the letter “O” and the numeral zero, by eliminating the letter from allowable variable names. However, the method proposed was to eliminate the letter from the character set entirely (thereby retaining 48 as the number of lexical characters, which the colon had increased to 49). This was considered beneficial in that it would promote structured programming, by making it impossible to use the notorious GO TO statement as before. (Troublesome FORMAT statements would also be eliminated.) It was noted that this “might invalidate some existing programs” but that most of these “probably were non-conforming, anyway”.
  • When assumed-length arrays were being added, there was a dispute as to the appropriate character to separate upper and lower bounds. In a comment examining these arguments, Dr. Walt Brainerd penned an article entitled “Astronomy vs. Gastroenterology” because some proponents had suggested using the star or asterisk (“*”), while others favored the colon (“:”).
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Fortran for Scientific Computing

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