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IBM Journal of Research and Development  
Volume 25, Number 5, Page 520 (1981)
25th Anniversary Issue
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History of IBM's Technical Contributions to High Level Programming Languages

by J. E. Sammet
This paper discusses IBM's technical contributions to high level programming languages from the viewpoint of specific languages and their contributions to the technology. The philosophy used in this paper is that it is the appropriate collection of features in a language which generally makes the contribution to the technology, rather than an individual feature. Those IBM languages deemed to have made major contributions are (in alphabetical order) APL, FORTRAN, GPSS, and PL/I. Smaller contributions (because of lesser general usage) have been made by Commercial Translator, CPS, FORMAC, QUIKTRAN, and SCRATCHPAD. Major contributions were made in the area of formal definition of languages, through the introduction of BNF (Backus-Naur Form) for defining language syntax and VDL (Vienna Definition Language) for semantics.
Related Subjects: Compilers and interpreters; Programming, programs, and programming languages