Early Programming Books

Paul Birkel pbirkel at gmail.com
Sun Jun 20 10:04:31 CDT 2021

When it comes to McCracken I feel a bit like Homer Simpson "Donuts ... is there anything they can't do?" 
He certainly made a career out of writing programming language instruction texts.

-----Original Message-----
From: cctech [mailto:cctech-bounces at classiccmp.org] On Behalf Of Norman Jaffe via cctech
Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2021 10:26 AM
To: General Discussion, On-Topic Posts Only
Subject: Re: Early Programming Books

I have two books on ALGOL 60 from 1962 - 
A Guide to ALGOL Programming, Daniel D. McCracken 
A Primer Of ALGOL 60 Programming, E.W. Dijkstra 

For APL, there is this from 1962 - 
A Programming Language, Kenneth E. Iverson 

However, I also have a reference from 1960 - 
LISP I Programmer's Manual, J. McCarthy et al. 

From: "General Discussion, On-Topic Posts Only" <cctech at classiccmp.org> 
To: "Paul Birkel" <pbirkel at gmail.com>, "General Discussion, On-Topic Posts Only" <cctech at classiccmp.org>, "dave g4ugm" <dave.g4ugm at gmail.com> 
Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2021 5:57:08 AM 
Subject: Re: Early Programming Books 

On 2021-06-20 1:39 p.m., Paul Birkel via cctech wrote: 
> Dave; 
> I'm much more curious about programming books that were *not* machine 
> specific. 
> That is, about "general principles" of designing/preparing software for 
> execution. 

Not sure if it's what you are looking for, but if you haven't, check out 
"Classic Operating Systems" by Per Brinch Hansen. 

> 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. 

Pretty sure I own one, by Dijkstra. Will get details later if you are 


> 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 
> Paul, 
> What about machine specific manuals, so for example the Manchester MK1 
> programming manual, the second edition of which is archived here:- 
> https://web.archive.org/web/20090526192456/http://www.computer50.org/kgill/m 
> ark1/progman.html 
> 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 
> machines? 
> 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. 
> Dave 
>> -----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 
> Machinery 
>> 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 
> hardware. 
>> I'm curious about texts specifically focused on the act of programming. 
>> Were there others prior to McCracken? 
>> paul 

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