Chairman's Report for 2004-2005
November 2004 saw the publication of the new Fortran standard, ISO/IEC 1539-1:2004,
known informally as Fortran 2003. This marked the culmination of many years work
by a large number of people across the world. The UK participation has been led
by John Reid and David Muxworthy and I should like to take this opportunity to
formally thank them and all other members of the Group who have been involved on
behalf of the Fortran user community.
The process of collecting requirements for the next revision of the language began
even before the new standard had been published, as described at last year's AGM.
In March this year the Group organised a meeting to
discuss UK requirements. While there was only a small attendance it formed the
basis for an e-mail discussion which finalised the UK proposals which were taken
to the WG5 meeting in Delft earlier this month. John and David will be
reporting on the outcome of the meeting this
Continuing our efforts to raise the profile of Fortran and increase awareness of
the modernisation of the language I put together an article entitled
"Fortran – a language with a past and a future" which was
published in the May 2005 issue of "ITNOW", the BCS membership magazine
which has replace "The Computer Bulletin".
With the assistance of David Muxworthy I had a
letter published in the
Spring 2005 issue of "Computer Resurrection", the magazine of the
Computer Conservation Society. We wished to correct the suggestion made in the
Summer 2004 issue that 2004 marked the 50th anniversary of the release
of the Fortran language. We put forward the view that the development of Fortran
did indeed start in 1954 but that the language was not presented to the computing
world until early 1957.
In December 2004 at an event organised by NAG I came across a "History of
Programming Languages" poster published by O'Reilly which had a somewhat different
timeline. It showed FORTRAN as the earliest language, starting in November 1954,
FORTRAN I in October 1956, FORTRAN II in 1957, FORTRAN III at the end of 1958 and
FORTRAN IV in 1962. The 39" x 17" poster is available online as a
701KB PDF file.
In March this year I gave a talk also entitled
"Fortran – a language with a past and a future" to the Society's
Wolverhampton Branch. I attributed the small attendance to the short notice of the
meeting that the Branch members were given because of problems with the BCS E-mail
List Server! However the talk seemed to be appreciated by those who did attend.
John Young and I attended the Computer Conservation Society AGM earlier this month
and proposed that the CCS and FSG should work together to organise a celebration
of the Golden Jubilee of Fortran in early 2007. We received a favourable response
and are now waiting for feedback from the CCS Programme Secretary David Anderson.
The proposed presentation on Fortran to the Specialist Groups Assembly did not
take place because of pressures on the agenda at both the Autumn 2004 and Spring
2005 Assemblies. I am still happy make a presentation if the opportunity should
Despite my statement at last year's AGM that we would start charging a fee for
membership of the Group to those who were not already members of the Society with
effect from the start of the 2004 financial year this did not happen. I prepared
a preliminary membership report based on a full FSG members list I received at the
end of June 2004 from BCS HQ and a list of non-BCS members I received three weeks
later, also from BCS HQ. Because the two lists were not completely consistent I
was waiting for a more consistent set of data so that we could be sure we were
asking the correct people to pay.
This consistent data has still not arrived and I hope we can take this matter
further under item (vi) of today's agenda. I
have a few copies of my preliminary report if anyone wishes to read it.
I wish to thank all the members of the Committee for their assistance in the
smooth running of the Group over the last year, especially Sam Ellis, who has been
both Secretary and Treasurer for the past year.
If anyone reading this report has any comments or suggestions relating to the
Group and its activities please let me know, we will be very happy to invite you
to join the Committee so you can help us put your ideas into effect!
31st May 2005
Comments on this or any other of the Group's pages should be sent by e-mail to
the BCS FSG Web Editor, Peter Crouch.