John Backus, whose development of the Fortran programming language in the 1950s changed how people interacted with computers and paved the way for modern software, has died. He was 82. Backus died Saturday in Ashland, Oregon, according to IBM, where he spent his career. Prior to Fortran, computers had to be meticulously ‘hand-coded’ – programmed in the raw strings of digits that triggered actions inside the machine. Fortran was a ‘high-level’ programming language because it abstracted that work – it let programmers enter commands in a more intuitive system, which the computer would translate into machine code on its own.