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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 afternoon.

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 arise.

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!

Peter Crouch
31st May 2005

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