It seems difficult to imagine a time when computer programming was not accessible to the general public. However, prior to the creation and standardization of programming languages, the creation of functioning computer software required much more than knowledge of simple html and access to an ftp site.
FORTRAN is one of the oldest programming languages. The history of FORTRAN dates back to 1957, when it was developed at IBM by John Backus and a group of IBM programmers. Prior to the advent of FORTRAN, programmers were limited to machine code, which was tedious and time consuming and very difficult to troubleshoot. FORTRAN was not machine or assembly code, but was instead a scientific- or high level- language. FORTRAN simplified the complex formulas that were previously required for computer programming, allowing programmers to write in a language akin to standard algebraic notation. FORTRAN's automatic translation of the algebra the programmers wrote to the code the computers needed to understand- gave FORTRAN its name. FORTRAN is actually an acronym for FORmula TRANslation, the process by which the algebra became code.
Because it was simple to write, FORTRAN was widely used, and made the creation of programs 500% faster than prior to its invention. The compiler- the mechanism by which the notation was turned into code- was the pioneer of compiler theory- a branch of computer science that remains popular today.
Although initially a program written in FORTRAN could be used on any machine, through the use of a managed file transfer or some other method of transmitting the program, many different dialects began to emerge, and it became almost impossible to transfer programs from one computer to another. As a result, the American Standards Association released a Standard for Programming Language, called FORTRAN '66, in 1966 to attempt to resolve these different dialects. Unfortunately, the success of FORTRAN '66 was short lived, and when different dialects again emerged, FORTRAN '77 was released in 1978. FORTRAN '77 was replaced by FORTRAN '90, which was replaced by FORTRAN '95. The standardization has made file sharing possible again, but still different dialects continue to emerge.
The following links provide information about freeware for the FORTRAN programming language.
General FORTRAN Libraries:
FORTRAN Library: A comprehensive list of FORTRAN links, compilers and freeware
Frequently Asked Questions: A source providing answers to many of the frequently asked questions about FORTRAN.
FORTRAN Compilers: A detailed overview of sources of FORTRAN compilers.
Links to FORTRAN Compilers: A detailed list of sites that contain FORTRAN compilers.
FORTAN Compiler: A downloadable FORTRAN compiler.
GNU Compiler for FORTRAN: A downloadable compiler, with detailed instructions.
FORTRAN Compilers: A comprehensive list of downloadable compiler software.
FORTRAN to FORTRAN Translator: A downloadable translator with detailed instructions
FORTRAN to JAVA Information: Information about converting FORTRAN to JAVA.
FORTRAN to JAVA Conversion: A downloadable file that is part of a program allowing FORTRAN to Java Conversion.
FORTRAN to C Converter: A paper describing a prototype of a FORTRAN to C converter
FORTRAN to C Translator: A read-me file of a free FORTRAN to C Translator.
Random Number Generators
Number Generator Code: A very simple number generator code that can run on any computer
Portable FORTRAN number generator: Information and a downloadable file about a FORTRAN number generator.
Co-Array Extension: A Co-Array extension for FORTAN '95
Miscellanious FORTRAN Software:
Mersenne Prime FORTRAN software: FORTRAN software that allows the user to work with and manipulate Mersenne Prime numbers.
FORTRAN Format Package: A downloadable tool for FORTRAN formatting with detailed instructions.
Generating GIF Images in FORTRAN: A step-by-step guide to generating/using GIF images in FORTRAN.
FORTRAN Data Input Scheme: A free downloadable method of inputting data in FORTRAN.