John Backus

1924 - 2007

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John Warner Backus (December 3, 1924 – March 17, 2007) was an American computer scientist. He led the team that invented and implemented FORTRAN, the first widely used high-level programming language, and was the inventor of the Backus–Naur form (BNF), a widely used notation to define syntaxes of formal languages. He later did research into the function-level programming paradigm, presenting his findings in his influential 1977 Turing Award lecture "Can Programming Be Liberated from the von Neumann Style?" The IEEE awarded Backus the W. W. McDowell Award in 1967 for the development of FORTRAN. Read more on Wikipedia

Since 2007, the English Wikipedia page of John Backus has received more than 499,481 page views. His biography is available in 52 different languages on Wikipedia (up from 48 in 2019). John Backus is the 18th most popular computer scientist (up from 24th in 2019), the 1,360th most popular biography from United States (up from 1,697th in 2019) and the 11th most popular American Computer Scientist.

Memorability Metrics

  • 500k

    Page Views (PV)

  • 60.66

    Historical Popularity Index (HPI)

  • 52

    Languages Editions (L)

  • 7.71

    Effective Languages (L*)

  • 3.86

    Coefficient of Variation (CV)


Among computer scientists, John Backus ranks 18 out of 245Before him are Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Edgar F. Codd, Marvin Minsky, Ivan Sutherland, George Dantzig, and Ray Kurzweil. After him are Ken Thompson, Dorothy Vaughan, Vint Cerf, Guido van Rossum, Alan Kay, and Larry Page.

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Among people born in 1924, John Backus ranks 61Before him are Giovanni Sartori, Ante Marković, Vladimir Kryuchkov, Dorothy Malone, Guy Williams, and Bulat Okudzhava. After him are Ahmadou Ahidjo, Ephraim Kishon, Hermann Buhl, Madame Nhu, Georges Prêtre, and Roberts Blossom. Among people deceased in 2007, John Backus ranks 46Before him are Lois Maxwell, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Jean-Claude Brialy, Paul Watzlawick, Norman Mailer, and Gaston Thorn. After him are E. Howard Hunt, Taha Yassin Ramadan, Paul Lauterbur, Petar Stambolić, Michel Serrault, and Bob Denard.

Others Born in 1924

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In United States

Among people born in United States, John Backus ranks 1,360 out of 20,380Before him are Mark Spitz (1950), John Mott (1865), Donald J. Cram (1919), Don King (1931), Stephanie Kwolek (1923), and Cybill Shepherd (1950). After him are Etta James (1938), John G. Avildsen (1935), Tyler Perry (1969), Dave Mustaine (1961), Mike Powell (1963), and Martin Balsam (1919).


Among computer scientists born in United States, John Backus ranks 11Before him are John McCarthy (1927), Andrew S. Tanenbaum (1944), Marvin Minsky (1927), Ivan Sutherland (1938), George Dantzig (1914), and Ray Kurzweil (1948). After him are Ken Thompson (1943), Dorothy Vaughan (1910), Vint Cerf (1943), Alan Kay (1940), Larry Page (1973), and Kevin Mitnick (1963).