Dusty Decks: Preserving historic software

J.A.N. Lee

J.A.N. Lee has had successive careers in civil engineering and computer science, and has been active in the history of computing for many years (see for example FORTRAN’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary). He responded to my email saying, “I have asked about the original FTN compiler several times but without any success. Two sources would seem possible — John Backus himself … and the original recipient Westinghouse-Bettis.”

In a follow-on message he said, “I found two boxes of FTN materials relating to the 25th anniversary in a cupboard yesterday and will get them out to MW as soon as possible.

Is anyone doing anything about the fact that this is the 50th anniversary year for the start of the FTN development?”

As it happens, I’d recently looked through several boxes of Fortran materials J.A.N. had already donated to the Computer History Museum. They contained among other things photocopies of essentially all the papers included in his annotated Fortran bibliography (see FORTRAN’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary).