Early Programming Books

Cory Heisterkamp coryheisterkamp at gmail.com
Sun Jun 20 12:40:20 CDT 2021

> On Jun 20, 2021, at 12:19 PM, Norman Jaffe via cctech <cctech at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> Basically, pre-1960, there couldn't be a 'general book on programming', since every system was a unique environment - the only languages that could even be remotely considered to be common were ALGOL 60 and FORTRAN II... and they were 'extended' by every manufacturer to provide, at least, some form of I/O beyond line printers and punch card readers / punches or to support different character sets. 
> Algorithms could be written in ALGOL or FORTRAN, but usually had to be 'translated' to the particular flavour of the language provided by the manufacturer... 
> [Even well past 1960, FORTRAN implementations drifted from standards... for example, FORTRAN on the Data General Nova supported recursive functions, something that was would cause massive problems on other systems...] 
> From: "General Discussion, On-Topic Posts Only" <cctech at classiccmp.org> 
> To: "General Discussion, On-Topic Posts Only" <cctech at classiccmp.org> 
> Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2021 9:34:18 AM 
> Subject: Re: Early Programming Books 
> 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?" 
> --Chuck 

Don’t forget about Rem Rand’s Flow-Matic compiler language for Univac I & II.  -C
http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/univac/flow-matic/U1518_FLOW-MATIC_Programming_System_1958.pdf <http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/univac/flow-matic/U1518_FLOW-MATIC_Programming_System_1958.pdf>

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