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The Computer Boys Take OverComputers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise$
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Nathan L. Ensmenger

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262050937

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262050937.001.0001

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Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

(p.83) 4 Tower of Babel
The Computer Boys Take Over

Nathan Ensmenger

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the emergence of programming languages as a means of managing the complexity of the programming process. It traces the development of several of the most prominent automatic programming languages including FORTRAN and COBOL and evaluates their significance as potential solutions to the software crisis of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The analysis indicates that while programming languages reduced the amount of clerical work associated with programming, they did not eliminate certain types of errors and even introduced new ones.

Keywords:   programming languages, programming process, FORTRAN, COBOL, software crisis, clerical work, errors

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