Early Programming Books

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Sun Jun 20 11:34:18 CDT 2021

Aside from the very general Algol report and the Iverson book on APL, I
have to admit that most of my programming knowledge came out of
manufacturer's manuals, specific to a maker's systems.

The APL book was, at the time, pretty much useless for writing any sort
of serious code until you got hold of the manual for a particular system
that you were going to use.  Even the early McCracken books on FORTRAN
had a section in the rear that attempted to gloss over different
manufacturer's features and "extensions" (e.g. What does "B" punched in
column 1 of a FORTRAN statement card mean--and for what system?)

Lest anyone forget, that in the pre-1960 world, a lot more of production
code was written in the assembly code/autocoder of a particular system.
 Even the DEC "Introduction to Programming" dealt specifically with the
PDP-8 and was useless for the PDP-10.

ACM CALGO back then accepted algorithm submissions in FORTRAN or Algol,
but that's hardly an instructional text.

I guess the question boils down to 'In the world before 1960, how
*useful* was a general book on programming?"


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