Monday, December 16, 2019

Tony Brooker, RIP

Cade Metz (via Hacker News, Slashdot):

Mr. Brooker joined the Manchester lab in October 1951, just after it installed a new machine called the Ferranti Mark 1. His job, he told the British Library in an interview in 2010, was to make the Mark 1 “usable.”

Mr. Turing had written a user’s manual, but it was far from intuitive. To program the machine, engineers had to write in binary code — patterns made up of 0s and 1s — and they had to write them backward, from right to left, because this was the way the hardware read them.


In the months that followed, Mr. Brooker wrote a language he called Autocode, based on ordinary numbers and letters. It allowed anyone to program the machine — not just the limited group of trained engineers who understood the hardware.

This marked the beginning of what were later called “high-level” programming languages[…]

See also The Guardian, Wikipedia.

See also: Tony Brooker and the Atlas Compiler Compiler (PDF, via Hacker News).

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