UNIVAC II mainframe computer system
UNIVAC II at U. S. Navy Electronics Supply Office

Grace Hopper Writes "Flow-Matic" for the UNIVAC II, the First English-Like Data-Processing Compiler

1957 to 1959

In 1957 Grace Hopper wrote the first English-like data-processing compiler, FLOW-MATIC for the UNIVAC II

"Hopper had found that business data processing customers were uncomfortable with mathematical notation:[1]

I used to be a mathematics professor. At that time I found there were a certain number of students who could not learn mathematics. I then was charged with ¨the job of making it easy for businessmen to use our computers. I found it was not a question of whether they could learn mathematics or not, but whether they would. […] They said, ‘Throw those symbols out — I do not know what they mean, I have not time to learn symbols.’ I suggest a reply to those who would like data processing people to use mathematical symbols that they make the first attempt to teach those symbols to vice-presidents or a colonel or admiral. I assure you that I tried it.¨

"In late 1953, she proposed that data processing problems should be expressed using English keywords, but Rand management considered the idea infeasible. In early 1955, she and her team wrote a specification for such a programming language and implemented a prototype.[2] The FLOW-MATIC compiler became publicly available in early 1958 and was substantially complete in 1959" (Wikipedia article on FLOW-MATIC, accessed 9-2020).

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