Currently alive, at 94 years of age.
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1924 – John Backus was born 3rd of December in Philadelphia and grew up near there in Wilmington, Delaware.
1942 – Graduated from the Hill School, Backus did study chemistry for awhile, and enjoyed the theoretical aspects of the science, but he disliked the laboratory work.
1945 – Entered in Flower and Fifth Avenue Medical School in New York, but he realized medicine wasn’t for him and he lasted only 9 months.
1946 – Backus left the Army; he enrolled at a radio technician’s school to learn how to build one.
1949 – Decided to enroll at Columbia University to study math. Backus visited the IBM Computer Center on Madison Avenue, where he toured the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC).
1953 – Wrote a memo to his boss that outlined the design of a programming language for IBM’s new computer, the 704.
1954 – Backus and his team felt strongly enough about their research to publish a paper, called "Preliminary Report, Specifications for the IBM Mathematical FORmula TRANslating System, FORTRAN".
1959 – Developed a notation called the Backus-Naur Form. It describes grammatical rules for high-level languages, and has been adapted for use in a number of languages.
1970 – Worked on finding better programming methods, and developed what he called a function-level language, or FP (for functional programming).
1976 – Receives National medal of Science.
1977 – Introduces this Functional Programming language during a lecture given on the occasion of receiving the ACM Turing award.
1998 – Received Fellow Award Recipient of the Computer History Museum for his development of FORTRAN, contributions to computer systems theory and software project management.
1989 – Received doctor honoris causa of the Université Henri Poincaré – Nancy, France.
1991 – Backus retired this year.
1993 – Received Charles Stark Draper price for his work on Fortran.