A very old programming language is getting bold again as many are learning that though Fortran was never gone, it’s now making a comeback. Number crunching is back in demand and Fortran is able to provide that service. Continue reading below to learn more about Fortran’s most recent claim to fame.
Tabatha Coffey once said, “Classics never make a comeback. They wait for that perfect moment to take the spotlight from overdone, tired trends.” However, his theory makes more sense in the case of Fortran which is finally back in the spotlight again — after more than 10 years.
You know that’s the thing about trends. You might never know what may hit the strike again. What may be today’s landfill, might end up becoming tomorrow’s trend and vice versa. That’s what exactly happened with Fortran. According to the April 2021 latest report of programming watchdogs TIOBE, Fortran has re-entered the list of top 20 programming languages after being away for more than a decade.
“This dinosaur is back in the top 20 after more than 10 years. Fortran was the first commercial programming language ever and is gaining popularity thanks to the massive need for (scientific) number crunching. Welcome back Fortran,” notes TIOBE.
Designed by John Backus in 1954, Fortran is one of the oldest guards of programming language. It was started as IBM’s mathematical translation system — aka FORmula TRANslation for its 704 computer.
Traditionally, programmers usually used to program in machine assembly code in binary, which was not only difficult but extremely time-consuming to debug the code. Thus, Fortran was developed as the first high-level language using a compiler, which was simple to learn and suitable for several applications.
Being independent of computer hardware and enabling rapid programming, marked a significant milestone in the history of computer programming. It also became the preferred language for programming in the late 1950s.
With Fortran revolutionizing the programming scenario in the 1950s, it made IBM the top computer company for decades. It not only formatted input and output along with subroutines but also launched interesting ideas like arithmetic assignments. The language also entered the 10th position of Tiobe’s index which was in back 2002.
But somewhere in the midst, the language lost its popularity — with the advent of C and C++, it became a legacy that got long forgotten by new age programmers and developers. Though the language lost its popularity, because of the strict competition with new-age programming languages like Python, Java, R, etc — it would be wrong to say that the language got completely died. It didn’t die, it was alive — all along. In January 2020, Fortran was ranked at the 34th spot. But as TIOBE note the dinosaur language has made its comeback again — Fortran made over ten places to climb to the 22nd spot in March 2021, before finally landing up at the 20th spot this April replacing Apple’s Objective-C.
Objective-C, the programming language superseded by Apple’s Swift for iOS and macOS app development, has finally dropped off the top 20 most popular languages. Fortran’s gains should be heartening to Objective-C since Objective-C’s popularity had been on a constant decline and it finally slipped out of the top 20 this month — as TIOBE writes, “Gameover or for Objective-C”.