Early Programming Books

Paul Birkel pbirkel at gmail.com
Sun Jun 20 07:39:32 CDT 2021


I'm much more curious about programming books that were *not* machine
That is, about "general principles" of designing/preparing software for

Of course, one needs a language; McCracken (1957) defines TYDAC.
Much later (1968) Knuth defines MIX.

In between perhaps one could argue that ALGOL 58 qualifies as such a
language-for-demonstration, but I don't believe that there were any books
specifically about programming in ALGOL 58.  I presume that there were
eventually such books for ALGOL 60.

Then there's FORTRAN, in which context I first encountered McCracken (1961:
Guide to FORTRAN Programming).

Obviously my first example was EDSAC-centric.  And yours is specific to the
Manchester MK1.

-----Original Message-----
From: dave.g4ugm at gmail.com [mailto:dave.g4ugm at gmail.com] 
Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2021 6:57 AM
To: 'Paul Birkel'; 'General Discussion: On-Topic Posts'
Subject: RE: Early Programming Books

What about machine specific manuals, so for example the Manchester MK1
programming manual, the second edition of which is archived here:-


In fact I expect that first book refers specifically to EDSAC, so is in
effect machine specific. There must have been similar manuals for other

I know there is a Ferranti Pegasus Programming manual, the copy I have is
dated 1962 but as the last Pegasus was produced in 1959 there must have been
earlier editions.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: cctech <cctech-bounces at classiccmp.org> On Behalf Of Paul Birkel via
> cctech
> Sent: 20 June 2021 09:44
> To: 'General Discussion: On-Topic Posts' <cctech at classiccmp.org>
> Subject: Early Programming Books
> I know of two early computer (in the stored program sense) programming
> books.
>     1951: Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer
(Wilkes, Wheeler, & Gill)
>     1957: Digital Computer Programming (McCracken)
> What others were published prior to the McCracken text?
> Excluded are lecture compendia and symposia proceedings, such as:
>     1946: Moore School Lectures
>     1947: Proceedings of a Symposium on Large-Scale Digital Calculating
>     1951: Proceedings of a Second Symposium on Large-Scale Digital
Calculating Machinery
>     1953: Faster Than Thought, A Symposium On Digital Computing Machines
> These were principally about designs for, and experience with, new
> I'm curious about texts specifically focused on the act of programming.
> Were there others prior to McCracken?
> paul

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