Comp.lang.fortran: 37 years of discourse

Before the Discourse, before the forums, before the Web…

In the early 2000’s, the buzz was about the Web 2.0 and its technologies allowing anybody to post content in a web page: comments, forums, wikis were born… In the 90’s the Web 1.0 was mainly static : you were either the author or the reader. And before, there was no web… :astonished: But wait, where Sir Tim Berners-Lee announced his WorldWideWeb (WWW) project if there was no web? :thinking:

Usenet was created in 1979-80, and there you could (and can) post messages on its newsgroups servers, in a format very similar to emails. In 1983, a net.lang.f77 newsgroup was created for Fortran users: the first message was by Greg Woods on the 29th Nov. 1983, but curiously the creation of the newsgroup was announced only in the second message on the 3rd Dec. 1983:

Welcome to net.lang.f77, the newsgroup for discussing (shudder) FORTRAN in all its gory forms. It is not anyone’s intent to restrict discussions here to f77(1) or even FORTRAN 77 alone. However, there already exists a net.lang.forth, and so the name net.lang.f77 was chosen to avoid too close a similarity with same. […]

The last message was posted on the 7 Nov. 1986 by Mark Horton :

This newsgroup is being renamed from net.lang.f77 to comp.lang.fortran. […]

The same message was also the first of the renamed newsgroup.


You can search and find some archives more or less complete of those newsgroups, for example:

In 2001, Google acquired one of these archives for its Google Groups.

Accessing comp.lang.fortran nowadays

20 years ago, most universities were proposing a Usenet access via the NNTP protocol (port 119). It has become more difficult nowadays. Personally, I am for several years using a Danish server of the Aalborg University, where I registered freely (see Usenet - dotsrc), with my Mozilla Thunderbird email client. NNTP is used for reading and SMTP for posting.

Another possibility is to access via Google Groups.

And as you may know, many people here are also on comp.lang.fortran, either posting or reading.


As a time machine, in the Google Groups an interesting operator is before:YYYY-MM-DD to search messages posted before the specified date.

For example:

Here are a few comp.lang.fortran threads where people discussed their backgrounds:

(2007) How old is the average Fortran programmer?
(2004) How many years we have been programming in Fortran
(1998) Oldest Programmer?

Here we discusssed How many times have you learned Fortran in your life?


Nothing new under the sun… :sunglasses:

Except fpm, stdlib, LFortran,… Which is not nothing! :new: :smiley:

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