Dusty Decks: Preserving historic software

George A. Michael

I followed a link from Frank da Cruz‘s IBM 704 page at Columbia to George Michael’s 704 page, which is part of his Stories of the Development of Large Scale Scientific Computing. I sent an email asking if George or his colleagues remembered the Fortran “Tome”.

George replied:

1. I do not recall any book called the “Tome,” although I was one of the first users of the original Fortran. We had four 704s but if the “Tome” existed, I never saw it.
2. One of our programmers, Bob Hughes worked with the original Fortran development team. I interviewed him and the interview is posted on our web site http://www.computer-history.info/Page1.dir/pages/Hughes.html

I will call him to check on the existence of the “Tome” and if he (still) has a listing of the original Fortran. But I’m not overly hopeful. In any event, I’ll let you know what results I get.

Bob, who was listed as one of the authors of the original 1956 IBM Fortran manual, said this in his interview with George:

“I worked on what they called the “first-level” documentation. And I made the biggest mistake of my life by not bringing a copy of that home. Now you understand why I missed making my first million dollars.”

So I’m guessing he didn’t bring a copy of the “Tome” back to LLNL.

Update 1/2/2016 and 12/29/2016: Updated URL’s for George Michael‘s web site. He passed away in 2008.