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Jul 25, 2017

1950's Computer Language "George"

[The Laning and Zierler system (sometimes called "George" by its users) was one of the first operating algebraic systems, that is, a system capable of accepting mathematical formulae in algebraic notation and executing equivalent machine code.

The system accepted formulas in a more or less algebraic notation. It respected the standard rules for operator precedence, allowed nested parentheses, and used superscripts to indicate exponents.

It was among the first programming systems to allow symbolic variable names and allocate storage automatically. The system also automated the following tasks: floating point computation, linkage to subroutines for the basic functions of analysis (sine, etc.) and printing, and arrays and indexing. It could also solve automatically ordinary differential equations using Gills' variation of the 4th order Runge-Kutta Method, that was an inbuilt language feature.

Dr. J. Halcombe Laning

It was implemented in 1952-53 and published in 1954 for the MIT WHIRLWIND computer by J. Halcombe Laning and Neal Zierler. It was made during a time with similar UNIVAC A-2, IBM Speedcoding and a number of other systems that were proposed but never implemented.

The following text is a reprint of a MIT's summer session report 1954.]