Blog post 5: Nugget “Man-Computer Symbiosis”

The basic dissimilarity between human languages and computer languages may be the most serious obstacle to true symbiosis. It is reassuring, however, to note what great strides have already been made, through interpretive programs and particularly through assembly or compiling programs such as FORTRAN, to adapt computers to human language forms. The “Information Processing Language” of Shaw, Newell, Simon, and Ellis [24] represents another line of rapprochement. And, in ALGOL and related systems, men are proving their flexibility by adopting standard formulas of representation and expression that are readily translatable into machine language.”

This passage really shows just how far our technology has come in only 50 years. FORTRAN as a programming language was ground breaking but nowadays when we talk about FORTRAN in class we see it as an “ancient” programming language. The rate of growth in our computer technology is astounding to say the least, the languages we come from to the programming languages we have now, the difference is clear as day. Now FORTRAN was a language where you had to use punch cards in order to produce your code. 

The cards looked like the one above and would be read by a machine and processed. Now programs in FORTRAN would be on multiple cards and had to be arranged in a specific order otherwise it wouldn’t work. Nowadays we work with languages that can be type on a computer using actually words that can be read and resemble words in our language which helps to lower this language barrier from computer to man.

With the growth of technology we have almost achieved one of the requirements that Licklider talked about “Man-computer symbiosis”. While its still hard to read and understand what is written without teaching its still a lot better then where we were before.

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